The capitol building itself is a wondrous place. This year again I found myself walking round and round looking for a committee room that had disappeared. A friend remarked it would be a bad place for a bad acid trip. Look! That buffalo is coming out of the wall!
The final days of the session were a little stale and sad - like the last weekend of the State Fair when all the grass is brown and the animals are gone. The bills are like those 4-H livestock projects. A whole lot of work. Few trophies. They die.
Sitting in committee hearing rooms turned up interesting details and occasional spontaneous outbursts of sincere emotion. No less interesting were instances of calculated misdirection or omissions in testimony - and the potent questions left hanging
How much gas or oil do we get for all that fresh groundwater?
And shouldn't water be worth more than oil?
The major things:
1. New Mexico consistently overvalues engineers, businessmen and big construction projects and undervalues artists, teachers and intangible natural assets. It's all about the money. No less at the legislature. Probably more so. Treatment of water in a drought is one example. Water rights market wheeling and dealing is very hot right now. Many predict those who can not pay for water lawyers and hydro-geologists will be left high and dry. Small farmers. Small fish. Meanwhile big water pipeline projects with fat construction contracts will be justified with magical incantations.* Gila River? Go Fish.
2. The negative impacts of the oil and gas industry are denied, ignored and suppressed. To use water as an example again, the industry uses veritable buttloads of water and pollutes it as fast as they can frack. But the state doesn't track this water use at all. Nor do they know what's in it before it's disposed. Any bill considered 'unfavorable' to the industry is met with exhortations to stop 'antagonizing' oil and gas. This from legislators who proudly hail intimate ties to the business.
The sign by the door of the Senate press room calls it the 'Print Media Gallery' which could imply exclusion of a blogger or social mediaist. But like a lot of other things in the Roundhouse the sign does not reflect reality or truth. Or it would read, 'Senate Staff Lunch Gallery.'
*Jobs, jobs, jobs- the magic words for any proposal that might otherwise lack merit.