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Kochtopus Bill Has Its Tentacles In The New Mexico Legislature

By Tracy Dingmann

Error-ridden language from a bill crafted by the billionaire Koch Brothers and served up as a template for a number of states has surfaced in the New Mexico Legislature.

Language for the legislation, which would have states pull out of regional climate accords they’ve formed to reduce the effects of climate change, was created by the Koch-funded American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and circulated to conservative lawmakers in a number of states.

ALEC is a powerful lobbying group that is financed by large corporations, including ExxonMobil and a number of oil and gas companies who strenuously oppose taking any action against climate change.

In New Mexico, the ALEC measure is House Joint Memorial 24 and is being carried by freshman Representative Tim Lewis (R- Rio Rancho).

According to the blog Grist.org, access to bill templates created by ALEC is restricted to legislators who pay $100 for a two-year membership. Restricting access to legislators makes it difficult to trace a bill’s language back to ALEC.

Language in the New Mexico version is identical to language in this particular ALEC template, which surfaced only after it was leaked on a states-rights blog from Florida.  Read here to learn more about some of the factual errors stated in the template.

Grist.org talked to Rep. Lewis, who conceded the language in his bill came from the ALEC template:

The New Mexico resolution hasn’t fared so well; it stalled in committee, according to sponsor Rep. Tim Lewis (R). Unlike Barry in New Hampshire, Lewis readily acknowledges that the language in his resolution came from ALEC, but adds, “I am not a member of that group.”

A first-term legislator who’s still busy learning the ropes in Santa Fe, Lewis admits he didn’t put much time into examining ALEC’s claims about cap-and-trade. As a teacher, he might be unhappy to learn the copycat text is full of questionable claims (find out just how questionable).

“I don’t mind being an observer in the Western Climate Initiative,” says Lewis, who is proud to support wind and solar power. He says he just worries that implementing cap-and-trade policies could hurt poor families in his state.

This development is especially interesting to us, because in New Mexico, pulling the state out of the Western Climate Initiative is listed as one of the top priorities of Gov. Susana Martinez’s “Small Business-Friendly Task Force,” which she created on Jan. 1 to review all pending and proposed rules and regulation.

According to the press releases, the task force’s mission is ostensibly to review the rules for their impact on the state’s economy, particularly their effect on small businesses in the state. (ClearlyNM stories here and here.)

But our public information request revealed that the task force is filled with corporate lobbyists for out-of state interests like mining and oil and gas. Minutes from the task force show it recommends that Martinez revise or rescind virtually every pending environmental regulations and a number of existing ones.

And it’s worth noting that Martinez’s campaign reports show that she took $10,000 directly from Koch Industries and $1.3 million from the Republican Governor’s Association. The RGA took in at least $1 million from the Koch brothers and donated more than a million to the Republican Party of New Mexico, which heavily funded Martinez’s campaign.

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