The federal government has more power than ever before; however, the efforts by many state legislators to advance federalism give us great encouragement for the future. As a result of her tireless work in New Mexico, State Representative Yvette Herrell is this week’s Federalism All Star.
Rep. Herrell first ran for office “because the decisions made in Santa Fe affect every citizen in this state. I wanted to make a difference.” Since taking office in 2010, she has tirelessly pursued the goal of ensuring that the citizens of her state can make local decisions and are not dependent on Washington, D.C.
She knew joining the legislature would come with significant responsibilities and did not take the job requirements lightly. Before running for office, Rep. Herrell wanted to be certain she was ready for the challenges that public office inevitably bring. She said, “I moved to Santa Fe to work as a legislative assistant for two years so I could learn more about the job and make sure I was prepared for the task at hand.” Now, three years later, Rep. Herrell is an elected official and leading voice for federalism nationwide.
“Both the New Mexico and U.S. Constitutions are very important to me,” she said.
Rep. Herrell said, “I was shocked to learn how much disagreement there was over upholding these two important documents.” She remains committed to promoting the principles this nation was founded upon both in Santa Fe and across the nation.
She worries about the federal government’s overregulation in New Mexico.
She explained, “In New Mexico, we have to jump through so many hoops to obtain gas and oil permits as a result of federal ownership of our lands. As a result, we have to fight with the federal government at every turn, and it’s costing our citizens time, money and jobs.”
Federal dependence is also a pressing issue in the state.
“New Mexico relies on the federal government funding for 36 percent of our budget. As a result, it is increasingly difficult to balance our budget each year and nearly impossible to reduce our dependence on Washington,” added Rep. Herrell.
Rep. Herrell is also engaged in a key federalism issue facing Western states: the management of public land. “We need to take back our federal lands and return control back to the states. In New Mexico alone, we have millions of dollars tied up in these lands, and the state residents are the losers in this arrangement,” she said.
In states east of Colorado, Washington, D.C. has carried out its agreement to dispose of public lands held in trust. In Western States this has not been the case, with over 50% of the total landmass of those states still remaining in federal hands.
“New Mexicans can still enjoy all of the wonderful outdoor activities that have made our state such a wonderful place to live and visit; however, transferring public lands will allow for more localized management, thousands of jobs, and the opportunity to innovate,” she explained.
Rep. Herrell’s tireless work to promote federalism, reduce dependence on the federal government, and encourage local decision-making has earned her this week’s Federalism All Star recognition.