House Bill 287: No Use of State Resources For Border Wall / by Karie Luidens

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When it comes to international politics and national borders, the federal government in D.C. has more power than state governments. But I took the train up to Santa Fe anyway, partly because it’s so close—a ride on the Rail Runner takes just an hour and a half from Albuquerque. And partly because I’m interested in a particular piece of legislation that was on the House’s calendar for the March 4 floor session—House Bill 287: NO USE OF STATE RESOURCES FOR BORDER WALL.

State Representative Angelica Rubio, a Democrat from the southern city of Las Cruces, introduced this bill in the House back in January. Here’s the text of the bill in PDF form courtesy of the New Mexico legislature’s website.

In February, HB 287 was reviewed by two House committees, both of which voted favorably to forward the bill to the House floor. Now, on March 4, it was item 2 of the House of Representative’s daily calendar, meaning the full legislative body was set to debate its content and bring it to a vote.

The capitol building is the people’s house. It’s a public place. We’re all allowed to go inside, wander the halls, speak to our representatives and senators in or around their offices, attend committee meetings, offer public comments at the appointed times, and sit in the galleries overlooking the Senate and House floors.

And yet the building is so monumental, and the processes so formal, that it can feel intimidating to show up and watch for ourselves how our representatives our representing us. In years past it’s never even occurred to me to try.

This seemed like a perfect opportunity for me to show up. For HB 287, rather than just read about how the House voted in the paper the next day, I could walk into the capitol and witness our representatives’ discussions in person.

Here are some photos I took as I made my way into the Roundhouse for the first time yesterday, explored its central rotunda, peeked into the Senate chambers, and took a seat in the gallery overlooking the House floor just before they were scheduled to return from recess at 11am.