Watchdogging the 2017 Session

For the fourth year in a row, in 2017, the Foundation will be scrutinizing every bill drafted by legislators in Santa Fe. Our Freedom Index is a powerful tool to track whether legislators are voting for or against free markets and limited government.

Here’s the index for 2016. The 2017 version will be online soon. In the meantime, take a look at the 85 bills drafted so far.

SB 5 is an example of a bill that will be rated quite highly. Sponsored by Cliff Pirtle, a Republican from Roswell, it limits purchases made with food stamps to those authorized by “the special supplemental nutrition program for women, infants and children” — basically, fish, juice, eggs, cheese, peanut butter, tofu, cereal, milk, fruits, and vegetables — and meat. In a state where welfarism is rampant, the bill advances both personal responsibility and fiscal sanity.

HB 25 is a good example of lousy legislation. It requires that every “department, commission, council, board, committee, institution, legislative body, agency, government corporation or official of the executive, legislative or judicial branch of the government of the state” award at least a third of its contracts “regardless of whether those contracts were awarded pursuant to a competitive process, to resident businesses.” However well-intentioned, the bill’s sponsor, Sarah Maestas Barnes, a Republican from Albuquerque, shouldn’t be micromanaging the purchases of goods and services by entities of government. Taxpayers deserve the best deal for their dollars, and as “economic development,” quasi-autarky is profoundly unwise.

The Freedom Index is interactive — we supply our analysis, but comments, suggestions, and criticisms from the public are welcome. So whether you’re following a particular bill or a slate of legislation, let us know your thoughts. The session’s not far off, and with New Mexico’s moribund economy and miserable fiscal health, what legislators do next year will have significant, long-term impacts on liberty, opportunity, and prosperity in the state.

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