All over New Mexico, towns are preparing. They are chartering buses, soliciting active civic leaders and top officials to reserve the dates, checking the Internet for Santa Fe hotel accommodations.
Mayors and chamber of commerce managers will make the annual pilgrimage to Santa Fe to tell legislators their sewer plants are failing, their roads need resurfaced, senior citizens buildings are in poor repair.
These towns, rural, small, mid-size and larger, will explain they are financially strapped in part because of state taxation policy.
They will get to the state capital by bus, or auto caravan, or maybe even the Rail Runner, but get there they will and their agenda will be pretty much the same. A tour of the Roundhouse will be specifically designed to target legislators who head committees whose legislative agenda deals with the town's wish list.
That evening there will be socials where citizens and lawmakers share drinks and laughs, where community delegates will tell their legislator how wonderful he or she is, where the legislator will promise to not sleep another wink until he or she delivers on the town's legislative needs.
Someone will snap a picture of the legislator smiling at the mayor and the mayor smiling back. That will appear in the newspaper along with a statement from the local chamber manager assuring the community it was a hugely productive trip and the future looks very promising. Things will change.
Nothing much will change. Santa Fe has limited money, tons of lobbyists to persuade lawmakers how to spend it, and political divisions so snarly they could debate eight days whether Chocolate Pinon Horny Toads or Blue-Colored Meth Crystals should be the State Official Candy.
I don't have a bus, I don't like driving in the snow, and no one has invited me to the party, anyway. Makes no difference. What I want won't cost anything. It is not selfish. In fact, according to a survey by Nationwide Insurance, 80 per cent of all consumers in the United States want the same thing.
We want a ban on texting while driving. This is a no-brainer, right? It's documented beyond doubt that texting drivers kill people. Once again, New Mexico is behind the parade cleaning up horse crap while other states lead the way. Forty one states have banned texting. Not us, by golly.
What needs to be legislated is a ban on all hand-held cell phone use while driving, but we will take that up at a later date. Driving and texting need to go. And, please, please none of this libertarian palaver about how big government is infringing on your rights as a citizen. We heard enough of that nonsense opposing the motorcycle helmet legislation.
Sen. Peter Wirth, Santa Fe Democrat, and Rep. Jim Smith, Sandia Park Republican, each sponsored legislation last session banning texting and driving. Here's the kind of thinking that dumped their bills into the waste bin:
Sen. Lisa Torraco, Albuquerque Republican: "I have a problem as a Republican giving police another reason to stop us."
Senate Democrat Leader Michael Sanchez, Belen: "I have a problem letting police officers see what I am texting."
Lisa? See, if you are not texting while driving, they won't stop you. That's how it works. Michael? They can't read what you are texting while driving if you don't text while driving. Why is this so difficult?
Governor Susana Martinez: Senator Wirth has already pre-filed the texting ban bill as SB 19. This being a 30 day session dealing with fiscal matters, it needs a message from the governor to be considered.
Governor, we've seen that fire in your eyes when you face the TV cameras defending your positions. Let's see that fire now. Champion this text ban, governor. Your state is embarrassing itself by lagging on this issue.
New Mexico. Get on the telephone with your Santa Fe delegates. Tell them not to come home without passing this life-saving legislation.