Through my many years I’ve come to believe that most of our elected officials acquire their office and then ignore those of us who put them there. Over the past few years many constituents and I (members of the New Mexico Off Highway Vehicle Alliance (NMOHVA.org), a group that advocates for those of us that ride dual-sport motorcycles, ATVs, OHVs and drive jeeps off-highway) have attempted to get a response from numerous State politicians on an issue important to us with no response. I enjoy riding various off-highway vehicles in this wonderful area in which we all live. When I pay the registration fees on my off-highway vehicles the money goes into a fund that New Mexico Game and Fish administers to provide training for young riders as required by law. It also provides grants to assist local municipalities to create spaces to ride in our State and numerous other associated activities.
Our NM State Legislature raided this fund in 2009, 2011, 2016 and 2017 to the tune of $.5M each year and reassigned that money to State Parks. That is a slap in our face because we’re not allowed to ride these vehicles in any NM State Park. Hundreds of calls and emails to our lawmakers each year fell on deaf ears, instead turning into little checkmarks on some piece of paper on a clerk’s desk. This even holds true for our own State Senator who is Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee , as well as our Governor. As the 2018 budget approached there was only $85K remaining in that Game and Fish budget. Most classes had already been cancelled and training equipment was mothballed. There were no more grants for communities needing help to create areas for our citizens to ride. Sure enough, when the proposed 2018 budget was published the raid was in there again. This time what was left in Game and Fish’s budget would be transferred to State Parks and, as our sticker funds trickled in, our money would be reassigned to State Parks to make up for the shortfall of the $.5M the Legislature promised them.
Each October NMOHVA sponsors a large dual-sport motorcycle gathering in T or C (bringing in around $40,000 to the local economy). Last October, while the NMOHVA leadership was in T or C for the ride, they requested a meeting with Representative Rebecca Dow. She graciously accepted and showed great interest in learning specific details of these raids. We, the members, were excited because (maybe) we finally had a champion who had the willingness and the influence to help us. At the legislative session Representative Dow took the time, effort and risk to correct this wrong, working with the House Finance Committee to remove the fund raid from the 2018 budget. Now our programs are becoming productive again.
I am so grateful to our Representative Rebecca Dow for singlehandedly solving this problem that has plagued thousands of riders in the State for several years. As I listen to the news and read the papers I find this to be just one example of the many ways this young lady is righting wrongs and improving life in our communities. This instills within me a renewed faith in our system knowing that, in this sea of politicians, we have a champion; someone to listen, someone to care and someone to act in our behalf.
Charles E Warren
Elephant Butte, NM