When powerful New Mexico legislators want to avoid voting on issues that could come back to haunt them in the next election, they do one of two things. Either they table the issue, or they hide behind the ever convenient urban versus rural myth. According to a recent Albuquerque Tribune article, House Speaker Ben Lujan is doing both:
For now, the Legislature has put the brakes on [Representative Greg] Payne’s measure. It has been tabled in the House Voters and Elections Committee, where House Speaker Ben Lujan, a Nambe Democrat, had more than a few questions about how the measure would work in practice. For starters, the overwhelming influence of heavily populated counties like Bernalillo would have to be taken into account when urban versus rural debates sprout up.
Mr. Speaker, let’s just put this whole urban versus rural nonsense to bed right now. The November election results clearly contradict your claims that there is any “overwhelming influence of heavily populated counties like Bernalillo.” President Bush lost Bernalillo County. He lost it, and New Mexico is now a red state.
In New Mexico, we elect legislators to vote on our behalf. True leaders demonstrate the courage to vote their convictions despite the potential negative impact on their re-election efforts. The voters may not agree with their choice, but we can’t help but be impressed with their character. Career politicians avoid uncomfortable votes through procedural maneuvering in an attempt to retain their stranglehold on Democracy.
The legislature’s continued tabling of issues important to the majority of New Mexicans is precisely the reason we need a ballot initiative process. Revive HJR7, Law and amendment Initiative Process and give every New Mexicans a chance to be heard.