SANTA FE, N.M. — Members of the New Mexico's version of the national protests against Wall Street are vowing to be a presence throughout the legislative session. They started Tuesday by disrupting Gov. Susana Martinez's "state of the state" speech.
A handful of protesters were removed from a joint session of the House and Senate after they shouted down Martinez as she attempted to begin her remarks. After the protesters were escorted out, Martinez continued her speech.
Tania Chavez, one of the protesters from Santa Fe, said the movement has changed the conversation in the nation and internationally.
"It's changing our expectations of our government and it's changing the way we choose to interact," she said. "We plan on ensuring that our legislators know that we are watching."
"Occupy" protesters from around the state marched from the Santa Fe Railyard Station to the State Capitol at the start of the session. Protesters also held a series of musical performances and formed legislative watchdog groups to track legislation during the 30-day budget session.
A key interest among some of the protesters is tax reform, particularly for out-of-state corporations.
Sen. Peter Wirth, D-Santa Fe, is pushing legislation that would require the same rules and same tax rates for all companies that pay corporate tax. Aside from lowering the corporate tax rate, the legislation would require a combined return for multi-state corporations. That means they would have to pay taxes on the New Mexico share of the corporation's profit.
Wirth contends the legislation would level the playing field for New Mexico businesses.
Beth Daniel, a 67-year-old retired job analyst, traveled from Albuquerque to Santa Fe on Tuesday to show her support for the movement. She had a piece of cloth pinned to the back of her jacket that read: "Somos El 99%," Spanish for "We are the 99 percent."
"I think because of the numbers we got out here today, that got their attention," she said of New Mexico's lawmakers. "Now, we'll have to see if they do anything."
The Santa Fe protest came as "Occupy" camps in Santa Fe and Albuquerque closed due to cold weather and orders from officials.
Tea party activists also gathered at the Capitol on the opening day of the legislative session, expressing support for a measure to require voters to show identification at polling places and for GOP Gov. Susana Martinez's proposal to stop driver's licenses for illegal immigrants.
Rep. James Smith, R-Sandia Park, said the Democratic-controlled Legislature can't ignore the tea party's political clout in upcoming elections and its message of lower taxes and less government.
"I know in November they will hear you loud and clear," Smith said at the tea party rally.