A bill to back and a bill to boo

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By Fred Nathan

Late Friday night, Think New Mexico’s legislation to prohibit political contributions from lobbyists and government contractors (House Bill 118) was approved by the House Judiciary Committee, after having passed the House Voters and Elections Committee the previous week. With public support, the bill will continue through the legislative process.

Many people testified in favor of the bill during the committee hearings, including representatives of Common Cause New Mexico, the League of Women Voters New Mexico, and both labor (the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees) and business (the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce).

In an unprecedented move, all the living former governors of New Mexico have come together to endorse House Bill 118, because they recognize the importance and the urgency of these reforms.

There is less than one week left in the session, so now is the time to let your legislators know that you support this effort.

Meanwhile, as you may have seen in the news, over the weekend the New Mexico Senate voted to reinstate the food tax on more than half of New Mexico’s foods - including such items as white flour tortillas, potatoes, flour, yogurt, butter, honey, nuts, canned soup, spaghetti and spaghetti sauce, salt and pepper and chile powder. Under Senate Bill 10, in a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, the peanut butter would not be taxed (unless it is organic), but the jelly and bread would be taxed (unless the bread is whole wheat).

Senate Bill 10 would tax all foods not included in the WIC program (the Women, Infants, and Children supplemental nutrition program). No other state uses the WIC definition of food for tax purposes because the foods on the WIC list change every year, which would create a confusing mess for both grocers and New Mexico families. (In some cases, the WIC foods are even brand-specific, so for example, a General Mills cereal would be tax-exempt while a similar Kellogg cereal would be taxed.)

Before it can become law, the bill must pass the House and be signed by the Governor. E-mail your legislators and Gov. Richards and tell them not to put the tax back on New Mexico’s staple foods.

Rep. Jeannette Wallace: wallace@losalamos.com

Sen. Carlos Cisneros: carlos.cisneros@nmlegis.gov

Sen. Richard Martinez: richard.martinez@nmlegis.gov.

Fred Nathan

Think New Mexico

Santa Fe