Highlights for Animals in the 51st
New Mexico Legislature
Ask Governor Martinez to sign Senate Bills 163 and 274 to help homeless dogs, cats, and horses!
The legislature has now adjourned, with a notable handful of laws for animals in the mix of the approximately 350 measures passed by the New Mexico legislature. Click here for APV’s list of bills affecting animals and where they landed.
Governor Martinez has already signed two bills to protect police dogs, Senator Howie Morales’ (D-Silver City) Senate Bill 141 to allow for the purchase of protective vests for police dogs, and Senator Mark Moores’ (R-Albuquerque) Senate Bill 139 to allow for an easier retirement for “state-owned canines.” Congratulations, Senators, and thank you for your work to pass this legislation to help dogs!
- Senate Bill 163 to extend the Animal Sheltering Board which regulates humane euthanasia in animal shelters and provides shelter standards and statewide spay neuter planning; and
- Senate Bill 274 to help fund licensed horse rescues through the creation of an income tax check off, a bill inspired by Colorado’s fund to help horse shelters which is raising $100,000 a year without any increase in taxes.
[bill signed by Governor Martinez on March 27th)
Please take three minutes to place a call and email into Governor Susana Martinez's office and ask her to sign Senate Bill 163 to help homeless dogs and cats in New Mexico!
The remaining APV Priority Bills to strengthen New Mexico’s animal cruelty law, to ban coyote killing contests, and to restrict the use of cruel and dangerous traps and poisons, failed to pass.
APV was proud to support the work of Ban BSL in New Mexico which saw significant progress with House Bill 63 to end discriminatory and dangerous breed specific legislation in our state, but that bill ran out of time in the Senate after passing the House.
Thanks to steadfast commitment from sponsors and ongoing public outcry, these bills likely will be brought forward again. It is common for worthwhile bills to take multiple years before passing into law, and the votes that were taken show where more organizing and educational work is needed in our state.
In addition to passionate and informed testimony from district attorneys, veterinarians, animal shelter representatives and animal rescuers, leaders from the domestic violence prevention community, it was encouraging that individual ranchers, farmers, and sportsmen, scientists and professionals, parents and community members took time out of their schedules to testify in support of APV priority legislation. This dedicated work is invaluable in advancing the dialogue and changing hearts and minds about the value of protecting animals. Clearly, all New Mexicans benefit from the dedicated work of these amazing testifiers!
It’s one of the easiest things to tally during the session – an excuse for abusing animals. During the debate on a bill to prevent whistleblowers in the livestock industry, Senate Bill 552, Senator Pat Woods testified that, “every part of animal husbandry is animal cruelty if you look at it the right way.”
You may have already seen reporting about what “factory farms” have to hide. While Senators Richard Martinez, Bill Soules, and Peter Wirth were outspoken against SB 552, other Senators suggested broadening the scope of the bill to protect other industries.
The House floor debate on horse slaughter was also filled with a lot of excuses for causing suffering to horses, but many champions talked instead about the need for solutions and support of horses and were successful in killing the bill. Check out the final tally of how bills that would harm animals died, thanks to the work of APV and its many allies.
This is a question we hear a lot when talking with the general public about proposed legislation to help animals. Yet there are many who come to the Capitol to oppose even modest changes for the benefit of animals. For bills that seek to alter the entrenched systems that promote harm for animals, the resistance to change is even more fierce and underhanded.
As one legislator said to us near the end of the session, “If people don’t want there to be any penalties for harming an animal, well, that makes me suspicious.”
Those most outspoken against protections for animals were individuals representing livestock organizations, guides and outfitters, some sportsmen, a wildlife federation, an animal interest alliance, a kennel club, and the New Mexico Department of Game & Fish, in particular with respect to House Bill 316 (banning coyote killing contests) and House Bill 579 (restricting traps and poisons).
Base tactics of lying and deception swayed some legislators in the short-term pressure of a legislative session. Over the longer term these tactics will not be successful.
For example, even though a team of ten lobbyists descended on the House floor to oppose a vote for a stronger animal cruelty law (House Bill 224), the bill passed the House hours later with bipartisan support. But virtually all bills with significant penalties, from texting while driving, to strangulation of a person, to committing animal cruelty were prevented from being heard on the Senate floor in this year’s session.
By engaging even more citizens, being more deeply involved in elections, and bringing home to legislators the realties of animal suffering and the link between senseless suffering and violence in our community, we have changed and will keep changing the laws to change animals’ lives.
The drought, the climbing prices of fuel and livestock feed, and a changing culture regarding consuming products made from animals may have hastened the fear-mongering opposition to bills that help animals in the 2013 session, regardless of the actual bill language or the realities of senseless suffering and cruelty to animals in New Mexico.
This session also showed an increasing polarization within party politics on a number of issues. Though party line votes on animal issues are rare, a hyper-partisan atmosphere added to why it is so difficult to have an elevated conversation with legislators about the realities of what a bill does or does not do. Our challenge will be to continue to demonstrate that people of all political stripes care about animals and despite partisan bickering, the animals deserve undivided support. It’s what people want.
Over 75 volunteers from all over New Mexico gave selflessly of their time and energies during this legislative session to advance bills to help animals and over 150 citizens attended Animal Lobby Day!
If you were one of these heroes who made multiple trips to the Capitol, made phone calls to constituents (over 9,700 phone contacts were made during the session, AMAZING!), shared information via email or social media, researched existing laws or compiled information to share with others….
Thank you for being an invaluable protector of animals and an active member of our democracy!
Senate Bills 274 and 163 are opportunities to support the health and safety of living animals, please contact Governor Susana Martinez NOW to ask for her support of:
• Senate Bill 274 to help licensed horse rescues without raising taxes;
• Senate Bill 163 to extend the Animal Sheltering Board and provide crucial support to New Mexico’s animal shelters.
The state legislature belongs to all New Mexicans.
It is our urgent task to reclaim this power and to keep pressing for a safe and just community. Stay involved to make a difference the rest of this year, next election cycle, and in all the sessions to come. The animals are worth it!
APV is grateful to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) for supporting our 2013 efforts. The ASPCA sponsored APV's Lobby Day lunch for our hardworking citizen lobbyists, and also supported other elements of Animal Protection Voters' work to pass stronger laws for animals in New Mexico during the 60-day legislative session.
Canine cruelty victim melts hearts at Roundhouse – Los Alamos Daily Post
Support for animals – LTE in Santa Fe New Mexican
Strengthen laws for animals in state – op-ed in Albuquerque Journal
Our View: Animal cruelty laws should be strengthened – editorial from Las Cruces Sun-News
60 days of politics –NM Capitol Report
Wild Kingdom: Legislature tackling a gaggle of animal bills – Capitol Report New Mexico
Conflicts of interest run rampant in state legislatures – L.A. Daily News
Lobby Day - Santa Fe Scoop
Flies, Maggots, Rats, and Lots of Poop: What Big Ag Doesn’t Want You to See – Mother Jones
Animals & Politics: The 700 Club – blog post by Mark Markarian