Advocacy

2017 Final NMCOG Round House Review (End of Session)

The 2017 session of the NM Legislature wrapped up this past Saturday morning. It was a long 60 days but somehow we managed to weather the storm, sustaining only minor scrapes and bruises. Much of the first half of the session was consumed by Legislator in-fighting over the state budget. The later half was plagued by Legislator vs Governor fighting over her questionable decision to veto nearly every bill that passed both chambers with wide margins. Those distractions played out well for the hunting industry as Legislators seemed to have much bigger things to deal with than the usual anti-trapping, anti-hunting agenda of the environmental extremist groups. 

However, I do not want that to seem like a discredit to sportsman response. To the many outfitters, guides, and hunters who responded to our call to action regarding HM 94 (would have forced the game commission to re-allocate elk permits in favor of residents), thank you from the bottom of my heart! In my five sessions lobbying on behalf of the Council I have never seen our industry be in a more powerful position than we were on the day that memorial was supposed to be heard in committee. My goal with that call to action was to send a strong message to the committee that our industry is not to be messed with and it worked! The sponsor pulled the memorial from the schedule nearly as fast as it was introduced. A huge thank you to everyone who called and sent emails that day. Your voices were heard loud and clear!  

NMCOG followed 51 bills this session. That's just 3.5% of the 1,473 pieces of legislation that were introduced over the past 60 days. Of the bills we followed, NMCOG chose to actively oppose 10 measures and supported 2. Of the legislation that we actively fought during the session only one bill was passed through both chambers, and we were successful in amending that bill to our favor. Of the bills that NMCOG actively supported, both passed. After five years of attempts, the NMDGF was successful in passing their felony poaching bill. Congrats to Director Sandoval and her team on their big win! There was a lot of hard work that went in to getting that bill passed and the hunting industry will be better for it. Below is a more detailed explanation of the bills NMCOG tracked as well as their final resting place in the 2017 session. 

Quick shout out to Senators Cliff Pirtle, Bill Payne, Bill Sharer and Representative Alonzo Baldonado for their extra support of the outfitting industry this session. Also, a big thank you to Zach Riley (lobbyist for NM Farm & Livestock Bureau) for working so closely with NMCOG to fight HM 94! 

LEGISLATION SUPPORTED BY NMCOG 

House Bill 92 makes it a fourth degree felony to wastefully take or kill bighorn sheep, ibex, oryx, Barbary sheep, elk, deer, or antelope outside of the legal season or without a valid license. Waste of the animal is defined as removing from the animal only the head, antlers, or horns or leaving any of the four quarters, backstraps or tenderloins of the carcass to waste. This is the same NMDGF bill that has run for the past 4 long sessions. The bill was passed by the House of Representatives on Feb. 20th by a vote of 66Y to 0NThe momentum of the bill slowed down in the Senate but managed to move to the floor with just enough time to be heard on the final full day of the session. The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 37Y to 2N. Senators Candelaria (D) from Albuquerque and, surprisingly, Gay Kernan (R) from Hobbs voted against the bill. A big thank you to Representative Alonzo Baldonado (R) of Los Lunas for carrying the bill all these years. Rep. Baldonado has always been a big supporter of the hunting industry and we appreciate his efforts immensely.
The bill is currently on Governor Martinez's desk awaiting final approval before becoming law. 

The bill encompassed funds being requested by state agencies for specific projects. A provision in the bill was an initiative of the San Juan River Guides Association of which NMCOG shares mutual members. A portion of funding in this bill was to be used for the San Juan River’s Simon Canyon in-stream habitat improvement work. The total request for the project was $500k to come from the Game Protection Fund. Under this agreement, the state would give $500k and the Federal Government would double any amount received for the project. This would take care of the funding for the entire project which is estimated to cost approximately $1.5 million. 
The bill is currently on Governor Martinez's desk awaiting final approval before becoming law. 

LEGISLATION OPPOSED BY NMCOG

This bill defines the activity of trafficking certain protected or threatened animal species, parts, and products; criminalizes the defined conduct; and provides for corresponding penalties. The bill authorizes certain New Mexico law enforcement officers to enforce the Act and assist the federal government in discouraging illegal trade of parts or products of animal species that are covered in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) of Wild Fauna and Flora. The effective date of this bill is July 1, 2017. 

NMCOG worked closely with attorneys from SCI and Conservation Force to determine how this extremely complicated bill could impact NM sportsmen. Initially the bill was filled with egregious language that would have basically made many NM sportsmen into criminals. NMCOG was successful in working with the bill sponsor to amend the bill to address the majority of our concerns. The bill that went to the Senate Floor was better but still too broad and overreaching. We were successful, thanks to the help of Senator Cliff Pirtle (R) of Roswell, in amending the bill on the floor to cover only the species listed in appendix I of CITIES (species already considered as threatened or endangered under the ESA) rather than all of the thousands of species listed in CITIES (which is what the original bill covered). 

This amendment made the bill tolerable and while we did not feel the bill could ever be actively supported, we chose not to actively oppose the bill as amended. As the bill moved to the House we were concerned that our amendment would be stripped however, it wasn't. Without any opposition, the bill moved quickly. It passed the House Floor by a vote of 42Y to 24N. Thank you to all the Representatives who voted against the bill based on our concerns.
The bill is currently on Governor Martinez's desk awaiting final approval before becoming law. 

This bill was moved mid session from the follow list to the actively oppose list. An exemption for the hunting industry was amended out of the bill in the House Judiciary Committee. This bill provides a new chapter of law which states that an unlicensed person must use a firearm dealer when transferring a firearm to another unlicensed person. A person who violates the provisions of the bill would be guilty of a misdemeanor for a first offense and guilty of a fourth degree felony for a second or subsequent offense. In essence it would now be illegal for an outfitter to provide a firearm for their client to utilize for a hunt that is longer than 3 days, without going through a licensed firearm dealer. The bill was part of the NY state Bloomberg initiative Everytown For Gun Safety.

There was a companion bill on the Senate side which is similarly worded. The Senate bill has passed it's first committee and stalled in Senate Judiciary. Thanks in large part to the NRA's campaign to stop this measure the House bill was pulled from the floor calendar and rescinded back to the House Judiciary Committee to be re-heard. NMCOG worked closely with the NRA and the Ag groups in the closing weeks of the session to make sure that this bill never again saw the light of day. 

The sponsor of the bill tried to use some backroom tactics to resurrect the bill in the final days of session however, thanks to the NRA's close eye on the situation the new bill was basically killed in committee.
Pulled by Sponsor

This memorial was introduced into the NM House of Representatives on Saturday March 4th. While it is important to recognize that memorials do not hold the weight of law, it was also important that we take a firm stance on the issue to show the legislature that our industry can not be bullied. This memorial would have forced the state game commission to open the E-plus rule and re-distribute landowner elk permits in favor of NM residents. The memorial was anti-landowner, anti-private property rights, and above all anti-nonresident hunter opportunity.

Our call to action resulted in a HUGE response from the outfitting industry to the Representatives on the Energy, Environment, and Natural Resource Committee. That sent a big message to legislators that on the issue of non-resident hunter opportunity you will need more than a flimsy memorial drafted by the NM Wildlife Federation to bring us to the negotiation table. The sponsor Nathan Small (D) of Las Cruces quickly saw what he was up against because he pulled the bill indefinitely from the committee schedule. Of course this issue will come up again during the next 60 day session but I was beyond elated to learn that together our industry can move mountains; and we can do it in a hurry!
Pulled by Sponsor

This bill would further define what constitutes as cruelty to animals however, the way this bill is worded prevents all intentional killing of animals except those game species protected by the NMDGF. The bill is very broad in it's definitions of animal mistreatment and tormenting. The bill could have multiple negative repercussions for houndsmen as well as anyone dealing with nuisance animal behavior from unprotected animal species (i.e. coyotes, prairie dogs, etc...).  
TABLED on 3/7/17)

This bill would re-define the make-up of the state game commission as well as change the way that commissioners are appointed to serve. The bill would also add a "non-consumptive outdoor recreation conservation" commissioner and would also change the law to provide for commissioners to be appointed by the legislature rather than the Governor. 
TABLED on 2/28/17 

This bill would change the current hunting and fishing license year. There is really no rhyme or reason to this bill and it is completely unnecessary. We are unsure about the motives behind the bill. It is not a NMDGF initiative.
Pulled by Sponsor

This bill would change the state game commission authority to cover all wildlife species including all fur-bearers and other non-game species. The bill also changes a provision to put all wildlife into the public trust for residents. There is no provision to allow for non-residents.
TABLED on 2/16/17

This bill would add both coyotes and skunks to the list of fur-bearing animals protected and managed by the NMDGF. This would increase the management to the Dept. substantially.
TABLED on 3/9/17
SB 268 would make it unlawful for a person to organize, cause, sponsor, arrange, hold or participate in a coyote-killing
contest. There was a lot of bi-partisan support for this bill among Legislators. The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 26Y to 15N. The bill was strategically placed straight on the House Judiciary schedule instead of the Energy, Environment. & Natural Resource Committee (where it could have died on a split vote). The bill passed the committee easily but stalled on the floor. A likely result of the high numbers of sportsman who called their representatives to tell them to vote against the bill. Thank you to all who responded to our call to action! Your calls and emails helped this bill run out of time. The right to host a coyote contests squeaked through yet another session by the skin of it's teeth. This one will be back no doubt but not for another 2 years. 
Ran out of time in the House

This bill would have prohibited ALL forms of trapping an ALL public lands. There are exceptions for scientific research and government agency wildlife management however, it would end all forms of legal trapping on public lands. There was a good turn out for our side at the original hearing for the bill. Thanks to all of your calls and emails the sponsor chose to pull the bill.
Pulled by Sponsor