It is time for a couple of Independent Commissions – Redistricting and Ethics!
Independent Ethics Commission:
Rep. Jim Dines (R-Bernalillo) and Sen. Jeff Steinborn (D-Dona Ana) filed HJR 8, a constitutional amendment to create an Independent Ethics Commission. Rep. Bill McCamley (D-Dona Ana) and Rep. Nathan Small (D-Dona Ana) are co-sponsors to this important legislation that was initially introduced in the 2016 legislative session and passed the House with only 10 dissenting votes.
This year’s Joint Resolution sends a constitutional amendment to the voters in the 2018 election to create an Independent Ethics Commission. The Commission will investigate complaints alleging violations by state officers or employees on standards of conduct, campaign finance laws, and conduct for lobbyists, as well as disclosure requirements and standards of conduct for state contractors. This commission will make all complaints available to the public, including those that have been dismissed without a hearing and the reason for the dismissal - a level of transparency the public has demanded be included in any legislation creating an ethics commission in our state!
This seven-member commission will adjudicate complaints that are found to have enough evidence to proceed to a hearing (which will also be public!), and will impose fines and sanctions where violations are found. Those with potential criminal implications will be forwarded on to the appropriate investigatory agency.
HJR 8 is strongly supported by Common Cause NM and comes with strong bi-partisan support. We will keep you posted as soon as it is scheduled for its first hearing so you can help support its passage with calls and emails to your legislator!
Independent Redistricting Commission:
Rep. Carl Trujillo (D-Santa Fe) and Sen. Bill O’Neill (D-Bernalillo), along with co-sponsor Sen. Mark Moores (R-Bernalillo), introduced HJR3 to create an Independent Redistricting Commission. This Commission will establish 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.
Seeing incumbents win time and again without challengers because districts are drawn in such a s way to stifle any competition and create a sense of incumbent inevitability. This combination of disenfranchisement and current low voter participation is toxic to our democracy. It permits big money campaign donors and special interests to dominate our government which over 64% of voters already agree has too much influence.
Seeing an Independent Redistricting Commission created in New Mexico has been a long-time, top priority for Common Cause NM – it’s time for this to pass and go to the voters in 2018!