In their corner

Mike Miller has another year of being the voice for the county after commissioners approved renewing an annual contract at their July 17 meeting.

The longtime lobbyist said he looks forward to another year as the representative for the county at legislative sessions in Santa Fe.

"The rewarding part is you get to advocate and interact with other people," Miller said. "I love the legislative process. I think it beats any other process around."

Miller, 56, will remain at his annual salary of $25,000, which comes from gross receipt taxes and is paid in 12 installments.

Miller, a Portales High School and Eastern New Mexico University alumni, was Roosevelt County manager for six years; Portales fire chief for almost 10 years; and city councilor for eight years.

He also served on the New Mexico Emergency Medical Services Committee for 21 years and the EMS Region 3 Board more than 24 years.

Miller said he works on behalf of all the county entities at the direction of commissioners, helping them with any problems and questions and speaking for them with state laws, resolutions, clauses and policies, which could negatively impact the county.

Miller said an example of a clause he served as the voice of Roosevelt County for was the clause which says counties and cities will still receive gross receipt tax money for food despite taxes not being charged on food in New Mexico.

Miller said when the state was considering taking this money away, it would have cost the county $302,583.

"I'm just there to be the county's voice in meetings when they can't be," Miller said. "I advocate for issues for the clerk if they want to change laws about voting or change tax assessor laws."

"A lot of times, as a lobbyist, it is your job to help state legislators understand the issues," Miller added, saying lobbyists explain in legislative sessions why issues are good or bad for their clients.

"To me, the whole process is satisfying," he said. "I'm a little biased but I think that Roosevelt County has some of the best representation there is."

County Manager Charlene Webb said county officials value Miller's experience and availability.

She said he has been the county's lobbyist for more than 10 years.

"Mine and county commissioners' schedules are not very flexible so it's nice Mike always makes himself available anytime," Webb said. "As a former county manager, he has good knowledge of county government and he has good contacts, which is key for a lobbyist."

Miller said he is also a lobbyist for health care, oil and gas organizations.

"I do a little consulting but it's all in the same fields," Miller said.

"Sometimes you go to these committee meetings and you get a feel for the way things are gonna go," Miller said. "You're watching the game take place live, so like with anything, you'll say, 'this is the way I see it and what I think.'"

Miller said commissioners will sometimes make decisions about his next move as lobbyist based off his impression from committee meetings and legislative meetings.

"I'll start getting a feel now for what the atmosphere of the next (legislative) session will be then go back to the county and tell them and they decide where to go from there," Miller said of what will happen in the near future.

Miller said he loves being a lobbyist because he is constantly learning and getting to know people.

"For me, what is rewarding is I get knowledge," he said. "You get to learn a lot more about the state of New Mexico and what issues are in other parts of the state."

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