On Thursday, in a fast-track effort to ram through extreme legislation, the New Mexico Senate approved the 20+ cent gas tax on the poor, Sen. Mimi Stewart’s S.B. 11, on a party-line vote of 25-14 with every Democrat voting for it and one Democrat, Sen. Bill O’Neill (D-Bernalillo) absent for the vote. However, he has supported the measure in previous committees.
Despite public outcry from countless New Mexicans about this bill and the measure raising gas taxes on the poorest in our state by hiking taxes on transport fuels, the outrage fell on deaf ears as Mimi Stewart is the Senate Pro Tem, meaning she can force through just about anything she wants, such as the radical abortion up-to-birth and infanticide S.B. 10, which is now law.
S.B. 11 puts extreme clean fuel standards on businesses that produce or import transportation fuels and fuels used in motor vehicles. The restrictions on these companies would force them to invest in costly upgrades to their fuel standards, meaning these costs would transfer to the consumers. The bill also adds vague and sweeping “enviro-justice” provisions to state law.
In California and Oregon, where clean fuel standards are already in place, there are already increased costs of up to 24 cents per gallon on gas, which directly hurts poor consumers. Similar bills have been enacted in Oregon and California, states where the gas prices are 119% and 135% higher than the national average, respectively, according to AAA.
In Senate Tax, Business and Transportation Committee, Stewart got flustered with people calling her bill out for harming poor New Mexicans, where she insisted, “You know what gas costs in Europe? It costs $6-7 a gallon!” She said people drove smaller electric cars in the region and said she didn’t appreciate “the sky is falling” arguments regarding concerns attributed to her bill. Stewart also complained about the committee hearing nearing two hours long on her bill.
However, senators from rural areas did, indeed, have concerns about her bill since many people in more remote areas have to drive farther to go to work and to get basic needs from neighboring towns. This de-facto gas tax would harm the poorest New Mexicans.
But despite any logical argument otherwise, Stewart insists her bill will bring industry to New Mexico, while poor citizens foot the bill for her pipe dream. S.B. 11 now heads over to the House of Representatives, where it will be introduced, deferred to committees (likely only one), and then go for a full House of Representatives vote.