BIG WINS FOR COMMON CAUSE PRIORITIES IN THE 2015 NM LEGISLATIVE SESSION

Posted by Viki Harrison and Heather Ferguson on March 21, 2015


A photo of the New Mexico Roundhouse floor

First, a HUGE “THANK YOU” to all of our tremendous champions for good government who fought hard for our priority legislation this session!  We not only had incredible sponsors for our bills, but we also received unprecedented support from leadership and members of both chambers and both parties! So many members spoke in favor of our issues and bills during this session that they are too numerous to thank individually here, but we will be thanking them in person over the interim.

And the outpouring of support from our Common Cause members, fantastic partner organizations around the state and the business community were critical in helping New Mexico achieve these wins. We are working to finalize our Bill Tracker and will be posting that later this weekend – but for now, we are gonna get outside and relax/sleep for a bit, cause the last few days have been non-stop and our eyes are crossed!

WINS FOR THE CITIZENS OF NEW MEXICO:

HB 155, Lobbyist Regulation Act, sponsored by Rep. Jeff Steinborn (D-Dona Ana) passed the House 63-0, passed the Senate 32-4 and is now waiting for Governor’s signature.

This year, we conducted a poll of registered voters across the state that showed that 89% of voters support greater disclosure in lobbyist activities, and our legislature listened! 

HB 155 will requires the Secretary of State’s Office to do the following:

  • Require that lobbyist registrations, statements and lobbying reports shall be kept and maintained on the Secretary of State’s lobbyist disclosure website, and shall be available in searchable and downloadable formats.
  • Have lobbyist registrations published on the Secretary of State’s site within 5 days.
  • Retain the lobbyist records online for 10 years – current law requires only 2 years with no requirement to archiving them after this short period.
  • Increase the lobbyist registration fee from $25 to $50.

SB 643, Online Voter Registration Bill, sponsored by Senator Lisa Torraco (R-Bernalillo) was amended to incorporate several additional great pieces of legislation, resulting in a bill that gives New Mexico:

  • full online voter registration
  • will allow us join the wonderful ERIC program for better voter rolls
  • can clean up the election code – something our County Clerks’ have needed for years
  • also encodes laws providing for military and overseas voters

The bill passed the Senate 34-0, passed the House 64-0 and is now waiting on Governor’s signature. Here are the bills that were added to Senator Torraco’s bill:

  • SB 195, Uniform Military & Overseas Voters Act (UMOVA) , Senator Daniel Ivey-Soto (D-Bernalillo) and Rep. Bob Wooley (R-Chaves)
  • SB 617, the Election Code Clean-Up & Modernization Bill, Senator Daniel Ivey-Soto and Rep. Jim Smith (R-Bernalillo, Torrance)
  • HB 62, Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC) bill, Senator Daniel Ivey-Soto (D-Bernalillo) and Rep. Jim Smith (R-Bernalillo, Torrance)

Bills that ALMOST made it:

HB 278 Campaign Finance Disclosure, sponsored by Senator Peter Wirth (D-Santa Fe) and Rep. Jim Smith (R-Bernalillo, Torrance) unanimously passed its last committee, House Judiciary, on the third to last night of the session but was not scheduled to be heard on the House floor.

This important bill required public disclosure of information about the campaign spending of PACs and Independent groups to disclose contributions and expenditures as the candidates and political parties are already required. It also added definitions that are critical to improve transparency in our elections.  

HB 151, Primary Voting for 17 yr olds, sponsored by Rep. Jeff Steinborn (D-Dona Ana), passed the House 47-19, and then passed both the Senate Rules and the Senate Judiciary committee. It died waiting to be heard on the Senate floor.

SB 58, Public Financing “Fix”, sponsored by Senator Peter Wirth (D-Santa Fe) included necessary definitions for “coordinated expenditure” and “contribution.” This bill also included new limits on the ways public campaign funds could be used by not allowing funds to be used for personal expenses, paying spouses to help run campaigns nor fund candidates who are running in uncontested races.

This bill passed the Senate 30-9, passed the House Government, Elections and Indian Affairs committee, and died waiting on hearing in House Judiciary, its last committee assignment.

Bills That Had Some Movement:

HB 115, Independent Ethics Commission, Rep. Brian Egolf (D-Santa Fe) 

This bill would have created an independent ethics commission which could investigate complaints of ethical violations by legislators and others who work for the State as well as serving as a resource for officials to receive guidance on issues. This bill was passed by House Government Elections and Indian Affairs, however, it was not scheduled for further hearings.

Bills That Were Tabled:

HB 241, “Revolving Door”, sponsored by Sen. Bill O’Neill (D-Bernalillo), Rep. Jim Dines (R-Bernalillo), and Rep. Javier Martinez (D-Bernalillo). This bill sought to address a two-year “cooling off” period for legislators to wait before becoming lobbyists.  It was tabled in the Senate Rules Committee 8-1 after passing through the House 57-10.

HB 150, Voter Registration and Early Vote Sites, Rep. Jeff Steinborn (D-Dona Ana).  This legislation sought to allow more eligible New Mexicans the opportunity to participate in our political process and was tabled in House Government, Elections and Indian Affairs.

HB 205, Public Campaign Financing, Rep. Miguel Garcia (D-Bernalillo), This bill, which mirrors SB289, Sen. Peter Wirth (D-Santa Fe), would have expanded the State’s public campaign financing program to include the State Legislature and was tabled in House Appropriations and Finance after passing its first two House committees.

SJR1, Create Independent Redistricting Commission, Sen. Bill O’Neill (D-Bernalillo) This would have established written criteria for re-drawing district boundaries and require a fair and transparent process for conducting redistricting. The drawing of electoral districts is not transparent and all too often, there is no public participation. The resulting districts can often serve the political interests of the people who draw them, rather than the interests of the people being represented. This bill was tabled in the Senate Rules Committee early in the session and will be worked on in the interim!

We so appreciate your support throughout the session and look forward to the post-session debrief and re-strategizing for what’s next!

Office: Common Cause National, Common Cause New Mexico

Issues: Money in Politics, Money in Politics, Voting and Elections, Voting and Elections, Ethics, Ethics, More Democracy Reforms , More Democracy Reforms

Tags: Disclosure Laws, Disclosure, Empowering Small Donors, Access to Voting , Registration and Voting Systems, Creating an Ethics Commission , State Ethics, The Revolving Door , Create Redistricting Commissions, Fixing Public Campaign Finance

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