SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – Thursday, March 9, there are fewer than 10 days left in the legislative session. So, a lot of the major action and debate will be happening on the House and Senate floors, rather than in committees.
But committees still have some interesting legislation scheduled for discussion. Among those scheduled are a bill to help New Mexico explore geothermal energy options and a memorial to highlight the importance of forests.
New Mexico’s policymakers have set their sights on alternative energy sources for the state. And while wind and solar get a lot of attention, some legislators are looking to explore geothermal energy as an option.
House Bill 365, sponsored by a handful of Democratic legislators, would put geothermal research and development in the hands of New Mexico Tech. The school would get a “Center for Excellence” to develop and promote the energy source.
So, what is geothermal energy? In simple terms, it’s a method of capturing the internal heat of the earth in order to generate electricity. Bill supporters say it might be able to provide zero-emission power for around 10% of the state’s clean-energy needs.
The bill has already been debated to some extent. Now, it’s scheduled for more discussion in the Senate Conservation Committee.
If you’ve spent time exploring New Mexico’s outdoors, you’ve probably enjoyed some of the state’s forests. And legislators are looking to make a statement by highlighting the importance of those forests.
Memorials don’t create laws, but legislators can use memorials to tell voters and other politicians what the Legislature considers important. Senate Memorial 29 would send a clear message: New Mexico’s forests are worth protecting.
The memorial is scheduled for discussion today and points out that: “The loss of forests takes away the culture, way of life and income for many New Mexicans — from grazing, collecting firewood, harvesting medicinal herbs and wood for latillas [to] hunting and other activities.” And the memorial calls on all New Mexicans to be good stewards of the land.
In case you missed it: Voting access bill
Yesterday, legislators spent hours debating a bill aimed at increasing voting access and security. Supporters say the bill would help increase the percentage of New Mexicans who get involved in the political process. But opponents argued it could infringe on peoples’ rights or cause security concerns.
A key aspect of the bill is creating an automatic voter registration system. That’s something that’s been under discussion by lawmakers since before this session.
Essentially, it would automatically register eligible voters when they get a new driver’s license at the Motor Vehicle Division, provided that they are legally qualified to vote. They would then get a follow-up postcard or letter with more information and the ability to opt out if they don’t want to be registered.
That idea sparked a heated debate, with some Senators arguing it would violate religious freedom. For more info on the bill and the debate, check out this KRQE News 13 story.