Early on Thursday morning, 10 Democrats crossed the aisle and voted with Republicans to kill S.B. 14 by Sen. Mimi Stewart (D-Bernalillo) on a tie vote of 33-33. The bill would have implemented strict “clean fuel standards,” resulting in the average gas price to skyrocket 20 to 35 cents — harming the poorest New Mexicans.
The Democrats who voted against it include Reps. Eliseo Alcon (D-Milan), Anthony Allison (D-Fruitland), Harry Garcia (D-Bernalillo), Wonda Johnson (D-Church Rock), Raymundo Lara (D-La Mesa), Derrick Lente (D-Sandia Pueblo), Patricia Lundstrom (D-Gallup), Willie Madrid (D-Chaparral), Roger Montoya (D-Española), and Candie Sweetser (D-Deming).
This is the second consecutive year New Mexicans have killed this radical proposal, with the bill failing to pass in 2021, after advocacy from the Piñon Post and others.
“This bill would have increased the cost of living for every single New Mexican without producing any measurable reduction in emissions. It would have hurt our senior citizens and caused much hardship for those living on a fixed income. On this vote, members of both parties joined efforts, ensuring the right outcome,” said Republican Floor Leader Jim Townsend (R-Artesia).
Although a tie vote could have been voted over on, the two members who were absent, Reps. Phelps Anderson (DTS-Roswell) and James Strickler (R-San Juan) would have inevitably given the Democrats a second loss if the motion were reconsidered.
Also, since the bill was amended in a House committee, it would still have to make its way over to the Senate for adoption. With just hours left in the legislative session, it would be an impossible task.
During the committee process, Stewart erroneously claimed gas prices were lower in California after the clean fuel standard, despite California’s prices being lower before it was implemented. Currently, California’s average price of gas is 135% greater than the national average, according to AAA.
Following the defeat of the gas tax, Western States Director for the pro-energy group Power the Future, Larry Behrens, wrote, “The fact that supporters tried to sneak this green gas tax across the finish line in the middle of the night tells you all you auto know. Thankfully, bipartisan opposition defeated the Governor’s green gas tax and in doing so sent a strong message to politicians who try to put the green agenda ahead of our working families.”
“It’s not enough that decisions out of Washington have delivered the highest inflation in 40-years, but now the Governor and her supporters tried to make a bad situation much worse. If New Mexicans ever needed definitive proof that some Santa Fe politicians care more about campaign cash than their constituents, this bill was it,” added Behrens.