Heinrich To NM Legislature: Don't Wait, Legislative Session Represents Once-In-A-Generation Opportunity

In address to state legislature, Heinrich calls for investing in early childhood education and positioning New Mexico as a leader in clean energy and outdoor recreation

SANTA FE, N.M. (Jan. 25, 2019) – Today, U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) addressed a joint session of the New Mexico Legislature.

Heinrich began his remarks by highlighting the devastating impact President Trump's shutdown is having on families and communities in New Mexico.

“The longest shutdown in American history continues to have a devastating impact for families and in our communities all across New Mexico. I’m grateful for how much the State has done to have the back of those affected by this shutdown. I share New Mexicans’ frustration over this prolonged, costly, and unnecessary shutdown. We can’t allow President Trump to hold all of us hostage whenever he doesn’t get his way,"  said Heinrich.

During his address, Heinrich stressed the unique opportunity lawmakers have this session to change the trajectory of the state. He called on lawmakers to take immediate action to finally make investments in early childhood education, adopt an aggressive renewable energy portfolio, grow the state's outdoor recreation economy, and tackle the multigenerational cycle of poverty that's held New Mexico back for far too long. 

"We have the opportunity in this legislative session and in this new administration to change our unacceptable status quo. The start of the Lujan Grisham administration and this legislative session represent a once-in-a-generation opportunity to turn New Mexico around. We have the leadership, the resources, and the revenues to do what we should have been doing for the last century," said Heinrich.

Archived video of Heinrich's speech can be found here.

Below are Sen. Heinrich's full remarks as prepared for delivery:

Speaker Egolf, Majority Leader Wirth, Lieutenant Governor Morales, and all of you in the Legislature, thank you for inviting me to be here.

It is great to see you and to see the change that is coming to our state.

I am deeply grateful that the voters of New Mexico once again put their trust in me to represent them in the United States Senate.

Obviously, I wish I were here with better news to share from Washington.

The longest shutdown in American history continues to have a devastating impact for families and in our communities all across New Mexico.

I'm grateful for how much the State has done to have the back of those affected by this shutdown.

I share New Mexicans' frustration over this prolonged, costly, and unnecessary shutdown.

Today, federal workers across our state missed their second paycheck.

I don't have to tell you the type of hardship that is creating for them and their families.

They can't wait any longer.

They can't afford for President Trump to keep holding them hostage like this whenever he doesn't get his way.

That's not how democracy works.

That's how extortion works.

I would argue that the President's chaos and clear lack of serious leadership only underscores the importance of your leadership here in the state.

I am deeply proud of all of you who worked hard during last year's historic election to create this opportunity to build a new beginning for our state.

We heard directly from New Mexicans how eager they are to see us invest in our children, invest in our people, and invest in our communities.

They are eager to move our state in a new direction.

And I am here to encourage all of you--from the newest legislators to the most seasoned leaders in the House and Senate--to lean in to that challenge.

While I hope my words today will be received well by everyone here, I especially want to address some of the new faces in the Legislature who were just out on the campaign trail hearing the desires of our citizens.

If there's one thing I want all of you to remember today, it's this: Act Now: Do not wait.

I understand what it is like to be the new guy.

I may be getting more seasoned myself but I still remember what it's like to be the youngest city councilor in Albuquerque and a freshman member of the House of Representatives and then the Senate.

There are a lot of people who are going to tell you how things work.

But you need to trust yourself and stay true to the values and vision that brought you here.

And you don't always have to heed the advice of those who have grown, frankly, a little too comfortable with the way things have always worked.

You are here to make change.

New Mexicans elected you to deliver tangible results and make their lives better.

As I embark on a second term in the Senate, I've learned that by engaging and working to solve problems--and by acting with a sense of urgency--it is still possible to deliver results in every corner of our great state.

Even in the face of the political chaos and dysfunction coming from the White House, there are still ways to pass legislation through Congress and secure resources to enhance New Mexico's unique assets.

First and foremost, that has always meant fighting for funding and long-term missions at our state's national labs and military bases.

I always tell people how proud I am of New Mexico's outsized contributions to our nation and its security.

Our federal missions support tens of thousands of jobs and bring billions of dollars of economic activity into our state every year.

But as missions change, we must be proactive, not reactive.

During my time on the Senate Armed Services and Energy and Natural Resources Committees, I have successfully secured new investments and positioned every single one of our federal installations to support forward-looking missions.

I'm proud to say that during my time in the Senate, we have grown the funding levels for our labs and bases and attracted new missions to take advantage of our unrivaled terrain, resources, and personnel.

I am confident that we can continue setting the stage for all of our state's unique federal assets to support missions long into the future.

That means making New Mexico the leader in emerging defensive technologies like directed energy and small satellites.

And it means fighting for new missions like the F-16s at Holloman and new active duty missions at White Sands Missile Range.

In addition to fighting for our labs and bases, I am also focused on fighting for our other major federal asset: our state's incredible public lands.

New Mexico is called the Land of Enchantment for a reason.

The outdoor recreation industry is one of the fastest growing sectors of the American economy, supporting nearly 100,000 jobs in our state alone.

Jobs that are only possible because of our public lands.

But when you look at economic data from our neighboring states and see how much more some of them have done to grow their outdoor recreation economies and create those jobs, it's clear that we can do more.

No one will ever convince me that Colorado or Utah are more beautiful than New Mexico.

But we need to do more to promote our rich landscapes and create new outdoor recreation opportunities--both to attract visitors and to improve our own quality of life.

That's why I have championed new public access and recreation opportunities on our public lands.

Despite obstacles from an administration that has shown hostility to conservation and our public lands, we have achieved some major victories in the last couple years.

We finalized a plan--many years in the making--to build a new mountain biking trail system in the Zuni Mountains outside Gallup and Grants.

We opened up public access and added thousands of acres to the Sabinoso Wilderness Area outside of Las Vegas.

And we fought back against threats to shrink protections for our two newest national monuments-Rio Grande del Norte and Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks.

And we're just getting started.

This year, I will be introducing legislation to make Bandelier National Monument a full-fledged national park.

I will do the same for White Sands in southern New Mexico.

Both of these iconic places are rich with the history, culture, and scenic beauty that make our state so unique.

And they are each more than deserving of the international recognition, the higher visitation numbers, and the millions of dollars of new spending that can come along with national park status.

I look forward to working with the gateway communities around both of these treasured places to create two new national parks in our state.

I will also continue to support local efforts like Farmington's Outdoor Recreation Industry Initiative, which is working to attract new businesses and create new jobs that take advantage of the outdoor activities available on the rivers, trails, and mountains in San Juan County.

And I hope that one of the forward-looking policies that will pass in this legislative session will be the creation of a State Outdoor Recreation Office.
A dedicated state office will help us think strategically about growing the outdoor recreation economy in communities all across our state.

So I urge all of you: don't wait.

Let's work together to make New Mexico a national leader in outdoor recreation.

New Mexico is already a national leader in energy production.

But decisions we make today could make us the leader in the next century and beyond.

The energy landscape is shifting and we have the greatest opportunity in a generation to create new jobs and attract private capital to our state.

Although our oil and gas industry in the Permian Basin is booming right now, we must also set ambitious and achievable goals to make New Mexico the best place in America to produce clean energy.

We have some of the richest wind and solar resources on Earth.

We are home to some of the world's leading energy researchers.

If we make the right decisions today, there is no reason we can't become a world leader in clean energy.

That will mean thousands of new jobs and billions of dollars of private investment in our economy.

We're already seeing what this can mean in the new billion-dollar wind farms going up in eastern New Mexico.

Just ask Senator Pat Woods what the hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars of investment from the Grady and Broadview wind projects have meant for the communities that he represents.

We're seeing similar job impacts in Los Lunas after Facebook chose to build its new data center here primarily because New Mexico can supply its power entirely with renewable energy.

We are only at the very beginning.

But we need to improve our state level policies if we want to spur more investment and job growth.

Although we have some of the best renewable resources in the nation, we are behind many other states in terms of clean energy targets and incentives.

I know that many of you shared my frustration when forward-looking policies got line-item vetoed in recent years.

Now is the time to turn the page on all of that and work together to pass items like a state solar tax credit.

And it's time to fully fund the Renewable Energy Transmission Authority.

Full utilization of our renewable energy potential will only be possible when we have the transmission capacity in place to deliver our power to market.

We should be exporting clean power and importing revenue from markets to our west.

Unless we are able to site transmission lines to send the clean power generated in rural parts of New Mexico to hungry energy markets, we will cap the amount of major job-generating clean energy projects we can build.

We also need to adopt state rules on methane to reduce pollution, protect public health, and end the waste of this precious resource.

And we should set ambitious goals by adopting an aggressive renewable energy portfolio standard.

We have the resources.

We have the expertise: from Senator Woods to our new House member, Abbas Akhil of Albuquerque, a leading expert in clean energy and energy storage.

We have the support of our constituents to get this done.

So once again, I'll say: don't wait. 

Don't wait to adopt these policies.

You came here to make change.

Our kids are counting on us to get this right for their future.

We shouldn't resist change just for the sake of trying to hold on to the past.

Larger outside forces determining the changing energy sector are going to keep moving whether or not we position New Mexico to take advantage of them.

So I say "don't wait."

Work together to put bills on Governor Lujan Grisham's desk this session that will put New Mexico in the best possible place to lead in clean energy, confront climate change, and create jobs.

Our need to stop waiting any longer brings us to the elephant in the room for this legislative session.

It's that same debate between caution and bold action.

These are choices that all too often, over the last decades, our state has not gotten right.

We have simply not invested enough in our people.

And the results are plain to see.

But these are solvable problems.

And we have the opportunity in this legislative session and in this new administration to change the unacceptable status quo.

The start of the Lujan Grisham administration and this legislative session represent a once-in-a-generation opportunity to turn New Mexico around.

We have the leadership, the resources, and the revenues to do what we should have been doing for the last century.

We need to use those resources to invest in our children.

That means finally funding public education at the levels our children deserve.

It means investing in job training to prepare our workers for the jobs of the future.

It means rebuilding our behavioral health system and reforming our criminal justice system so our people can turn their lives around and every New Mexican who needs help with mental health or addiction can find the treatment they need.

And, most importantly, it means finally investing in our next generation.

It is long past time to put a sustainable portion of our Permanent School Fund to work for early childhood education.

A failure to invest in early childhood education compounds our state's long-running challenge of poverty.

The time to stop talking and start doing is right now.

Don't wait.

Inaction is a moral failure to the children who are literally our future.

New Mexicans sent a clear message in November's election.

They told us they are sick and tired of waiting for us to change the trajectory of our state.

I know because they told me.

And they told all of you.

This session is the opportunity that many of us have been fighting for all our lives.

New Mexicans have been waiting for and demanding energetic, optimistic leadership in Santa Fe.

I believe we have that in Governor Lujan Grisham.

And we have it in each of you.

Thank You.