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Are You Sitting Down? Here Are The Recommendations From The Gov’s “Small Business-Friendly” Task Force

Gov. Susana Martinez

By Tracy Dingmann

When Gov. Susana Martinez wrote an executive order on Jan. 1 halting all pending state regulations and creating a “Small Business-Friendly Task Force” to review them, the group had 90 days to come up with a plan.

Ostensibly, the task force was to consider each regulation and rule on its merits and then submit a fair and balanced report to the governor by April 1, detailing which rules the state could keep or scrap.

Except that’s not what’s been going on.

Meeting in Secret, With an Agenda

The members of the “Small Business-Friendly Task Force” were named in secret and have been meeting in secret. Only by filing an open records request under state law have we been able to find out who is on the task force and what it is meeting about.

Through documents gained from our request, we learned the task force does not represent New Mexico’s small business community. Instead, it is packed with large-business people and lobbyists from industries that gave big to the Martinez campaign – and who have been fighting back hard against pending state regulations.

The internal documents show members were never inclined to keep any of the regulations – in fact, they are focused on devising tactics the Martinez administration can use to eliminate each one.

The Mid-Point Report

Our request turned up one particularly fascinating document – a “mid-point report” dated Feb. 18 that, based on its unguarded language, was decidedly not intended to be shared outside the Gov’s office.

From the preamble:

“The task force does not wish to present a laundry list of problems to the Governor but develop solutions (sic). The goal is to provide the Governor and/or agencies cover when repealing or revising a rule or regulation thus avoiding litigation if possible.

The final report to the Governor will include a road map of short and long-term tactics and strategies, including the use of executive orders and legislative strategies. Each troublesome regulation identified will be accompanied by a recommendation on the best way to remove their negative impacts (sic).”

The report says the task force decided to focus on two areas of regulation: construction and the environment. Specifically, the task force wants to focus on regulations in the Environment Department, the Energy, Natural Resources and Minerals Department and the Division of Game and Fish, as they are “having the most impact on economic development and the will determine (sic) the best approach to rescind or revise the troublesome rules/regulations.”

Singled out as examples of “onerous legislation” are the “Pit Rule” and the “Enforcement and Compliance Rule,” both of which apply to and have been extremely unpopular with the oil and gas industry in New Mexico.

Here’s what else is in the report:

  • The task force doesn’t want New Mexico to do any more than what’s required by the federal government.

From the report:

“The first motion of the Small Business Task Force was to propose that state rules and regulations across the board be no more stringent than federal requirements and to correct any rule or regulation that requires more regulation than federal standards.”

  • The task force recommends that the Economic Development Department develop a secret “whistleblower complaint log and phone-based hotline” for businesses who want to complain privately about NMED enforcement of rules and regulations.

From the report:

“Companies often do not want to be seen as “troublemakers” by filing public complaints. If they do have complaints about NMED, this would ensure that companies would have confidentiality if they make complaints about departmental policies or practices through the whistleblower program. The EDD Office of Business Advocacy would administer this program and investigate complaints.”

  • In what sounds awfully ominous for mid-level classified employees, the task force says it has found that even in cases where exempt department heads have been removed, those pesky classified employees who have to actually enforce the rules (and who can’t be fired without cause) are undoubtably going to let their “anti-business agenda” stand in the way of the kind of rollback they are looking at. The task force plans to come up with ways to “mitigate” that, the report says.

From the report:

“Beyond changing a rule or regulation is the enforcement and handling of regulations and rules, particularly with permitting, by mid-level classified employees. An overarching theme we have observed is working with mid-level classified managers at NMED and other departments who still have an anti-business agenda despite changes in leadership at the department level. The committee is looking for ways to mitigate this situation.”

What Else?

Here are the other recommendations from the task force:

  • Removing New Mexico from the Western Climate Initiative, a group which advocates for a coordinated Western effort to reduce carbon emissions.
  • Removing the New Mexico only “cap-and-tax.” This refers to a set of carbon emission rules that the state adopted late in the Richardson administration after an advisory board considered nearly two years worth of public and expert testimony.
  • Working with other western governors to “delay the adoption of new air standards.”
  • Having the New Mexico Environment Department develop a fast-track environmental permit process to mitigate complaints from businesses
  • Repealing, modifying or replacing the regulatory amendment implementing the collective bargaining wage rate scheme for prevailing wages provided for in 2009 amendments to the Public Works Minimum Wage Act, also known as SB 33.
  • Looking at state building codes to identify ways to “bring compliance back down to the levels of international code.”
  • Combining and reducing the number of construction permits required.

6 thoughts on “Are You Sitting Down? Here Are The Recommendations From The Gov’s “Small Business-Friendly” Task Force

  1. Why so surprised, Tracy? Gov. Martinez and the small business-friendly task force are simply doing what business does.

    What Red Chili Revolution finds disturbing is that this self-described ‘small business-friendly task force’ failed to recommend closing NM’s corporate state income tax loophole. This loophole helps drive NM’s small businesses out of business.

    A reasonable person would normally think a ‘small business-friendly’ task force would recommend stuff which actually benefits small businesses. All this stuff from Martinez’s task force will benefit only giant out-of-state corporations.

    The corporate state income tax loophole, which your state senator and state representative refuse to close, allows out-of-state corporations to NOT PAY corporate state income taxes on the profits they earn in New Mexico.

    Guess who pays those corporate state income taxes on profits earned in New Mexico? Small, local, mom & pop, New Mexico businesses and corporations.

    Many of NM’s home-grown businesses are no longer around anymore, thanks to this corporate state income tax loophole, which Walmart, Target, Lowes, Home Depot, and all the other out-of-state corporations which do business in New Mexico, use to increase profit margins.

    It’s a contradiction for Martinez’s secret group to call itself a Small Business-Friendly Task Force. But then, these people don’t have a record of really telling much of the truth about what they actually do.

    What really bugs Red Chili Revolution about this is your state senator and representative (and Red’s) are allowing the richest New Mexicans & out-of-state corporations to get away with these big tax subsidies (call them: tax cuts, tax breaks, tax exemptions, whatever).

    These lawmaker-enabled tax giveaways cheat our K-12 schools, colleges, universities, and public services out of millions of dollars of sorely needed revenues. Ya Vasta! Bastante!

    By the way, could you PLEASE help Red Chili Revolution Productions promote the following special radio program set to air Mon, Feb 28, 6 pm on KANW 89.1 FM?

    On Mon, Feb. 28, 6 pm, KANW radio Listeners can hear a rebroadcast of the “Great Debate” & vote online on which of the two (2) debate teams more successfully argued this question:

    Should NM’s lawmakers cut education & public services, or raise revenues?

    KANW and its translators — KNLK-FM & KIDS-FM — will rebroadcast the debate which was held in Santa Fe last Wed night.

    Also, KANW will be ‘streaming live’ the debate rebroadcast from http://www.kanw.com, so it will be available worldwide on the web. At 7 pm, citizens can log-on to http://www.kanw.com/ and vote on which team won the debate.


  2. Oh let’s see… delay the adoption of new air standards, develop a fast track environmental permit process, repeal public works minimum wage act, remove NM from the western climate initiative… wow… (not to mention repeal the HUMANE ban on the death penalty and get rid of the film industry’s incentive to be here)…looks like we’re headed backward. Bummer. But then, I didn’t vote for her.

  3. No big surprise, Susana is simply serving her true “constituents” – rich white men. Like all Republicans, her agenda is to make more profit for rich white men at the expense of the environment, our health, the education of our children and small business.

  4. Interestingly, I have scanned through hundreds of emails sent to the Gov’s Cut Waste Tips site ( http://governor.state.nm.us/Cut_Waste_Tips.aspx ) and so far have not seen any complaining about environmental regs. I would expect this venue for submitting suggestions is more heavily weighted toward the opinions of real small business owners and the general public who don’t have their own lobbyists. The big guys already have a seat at the table as this blog points out so don’t need to use this means to be heard.

  5. Outstanding article, as was its predecessor. We’ve linked to your article, done some research on some of the non-lobbyist committee members, and published what we found. Thanks for doing such an outstanding job on the subject!

  6. Yep, that’s the way it works. Those who provide campaign money get heard, and those who don’t, don’t. Small business friendly? She said she would sell the jet airplane, also. It’s going to be a tough four years, so hang on.