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3 Questions with Legislative Finance Committee Analyst Amanda Dick-Peddie

(Courtesy Amanda Dick-Peddie)

It sounds like fate.

Last month, Amanda Dick-Peddie’s bosses at the Legislative Finance Committee assigned her a deep dive on a bill that looks to adopt “the aroma of green chile roasting in the fall” as the Land of Mañana’s official aroma. Growing up in Alamogordo and later moving to Las Cruces, where bragging about Chimayó chile could land you in fisticuffs, she knows well the distinct, smoky bouquet of blistering pods. Creating fiscal impact reports (FIR), the aptly named documents that can also serve as legislative crib sheets, are part of the 9-to-5 for Dick-Peddie, who has been an analyst for the committee for four years. But she wasn’t supposed to get this assignment.

“I was accidentally assigned an FIR for SB 188 (declaring the state aroma the smell of roasting green chile)& asked if I could write a ~fun~ analysis on it,” she wrote on Twitter.

And fun, she made it. Dick-Peddie’s Twitter followers already know about her dry wit, but now her clever words and keen eye are documented in perpetuity. She notes in her analysis that the official aroma might pull tourists from Colorado “which, for some reason, thinks it has green chile comparable to that of New Mexico.”

She adds that, if passed, the bill might encourage New Mexicans to answer the state question (Red or Green?) as green, when we all know it’s “red and green or Christmas.”

“Further comment on the definitive answer to the ‘Red or Green?’ question is (unfortunately) beyond the scope of this analysis,” she writes.

Dick-Peddie took some time out of her busy schedule the day after her 28th birthday—and while recovering from COVID-19 at home—to give SFR a peek at what it’s like to be a Roundhouse analyst.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity. (Andy Lyman)

You wrote on Twitter that the fiscal impact report for the state aroma bill was accidentally assigned to you, so you asked to make it ‘fun.’ How ‘fun’ can writing an FIR really ever be?

Yeah, it was accidentally assigned to me. Typically, for bills like that, we just don’t do a fiscal impact report. So it was kind of a fluke that I got it. I was really excited about getting it, so I wanted to write it. I would say that, that is about the most fun writing a fiscal impact report can be—writing about green chile. There is something kind of interesting, and I guess fun, about doing research about something that you didn’t know much about before and learning. But sometimes we’re so busy that it doesn’t feel fun to write a fiscal impact report.

You wrote that one of the technical issues with the aroma bill is its specificity—the state aroma would be chile roasting in the fall, leaving out the fragrant and occasional summer roast. What kind of tips do you have for the average engaged citizen to catch seemingly little issues that might actually change the intent of legislation?

My biggest tip would be to read a bill more than once. A lot of times, the first time you read a bill, you’re so focused on getting through the jargony format of a bill. And if you read it more than once, you might pick up those things. In this case, it says chile roasting in the fall. So if something sticks out to you, it might be worth looking into to see if it could maybe cause problems down the line.

Legislative fiscal analysts are often reduced to initials on a page and mostly sequestered away from the public eye at the Roundhouse, likely by design. What should people know about the work you do?

I think people should know that fiscal analysts, and LFC staff in general, we’re year-round staff. We’re some of the only year-round staff that the Legislature has. We’re a resource to all members, not just LFC members. But we’re also a good resource to the public. And we produce a ton of stuff. All year round, we travel the state, and we do these interim committee hearings, and we write tons and tons of reports that are all online. If you have a question about state government, because there’s a lot of things that can be really confusing in state government, our office is usually a pretty good resource. I would also say that maybe it is by design that we’re hidden away from the public, because our offices are in the basement. So it does definitely feel like we’re kind of in the bowels of the Capitol.

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