Constitutional Amendment to Create Ethics Commission Clears First Committee Unanimously!
New Mexico is one of only eight states left without an independent ethics commission, but hopefully not for much longer!
On Friday Jan. 29, 2016, the House Government Elections and Indian Affairs Committee debated Rep. Jim Dines' (R-Abq) HJR 5 a constitutional amendment that would approve sending the issue of the formation of our state’s first independent ethics commission to the voters this fall. This nine-member commission would receive and investigate complaints submitted to them regarding:
- ethical conduct violations by elected officials or public employees
- campaign finance restrictions or reporting violations for candidates, both state and local campaigns
- registration and reporting requirements for lobbyists
- disclosure and ethical standard conduct violations by state contractors or seekers of state contractors
This commission will only make complaints public after either a response from the individual facing a complaint has been received by the commission, or the deadline for submitting a response has passed. This rule will address the concerns that frivolous or malicious complaints could be publicized prior to an accused individual is given appropriate time to respond to a complaint filed against them.
Over the past year, our state has seen a historic number of high-profile ethics scandals involving our trusted elected officials. An Independent Ethics Commission is taking us one step closer toward rebuilding the broken trust between the public and our elected officials.
Our next committee assignment is the House Judiciary Committee. We will let you know when that hearing is set -- hopefully early next week!
HJR 2, “Automatic Voter Registration”
This week was also the, “end of the line” for HJR 2 that would have sent a constitutional amendment to the voters to approve a system for automatic voter registration.
Automatic Voter Registration is a process many states are adopting to update our current paper-based system with a new electronic system that creates a secure database to automatically identify and register all eligible Americans to vote. The secure database actively updates voter registration information when people apply for or renew their driver’s license or when they change their address.
We will bring this important bill back up again in future sessions!