What happened on Thursday? Lots and lots!
Starting at 8:30 in the morning, we had HJR 3 Independent Redistricting Commission, sponsored by Rep. Carl Trujillo, Sen. Bill O’Neill and Sen. Mark Moores, passed the House State Government, Indian and Veterans’ Affairs committee!
This is a HUGE win, and we are thrilled to be moving on to the second committee.
Common Cause New Mexico supports the creation of an independent commission to conduct redistricting. This 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.
When voters feel that their input doesn’t matter, they stop participating. Seeing incumbents win time and again because districts are rigged to stifle competition creates a sense of incumbent inevitability and creates a disconnection between citizens and their elected officials. This combination of disenfranchisement and low voter participation is toxic to our democracy.
Then on to the afternoon where we had lots of bills we are watching.
Here is how these bills fared in the House Local Government, Elections, Land Grants and Cultural Affairs committee
HB 174 and HB 104 were combined – the Local Election Act sponsored by Rep. Jim Smith, Rep. Paul Bandy and Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto was back up for a second hearing and it passed – way to go reaching some consensus and moving this important bill forward.
The bill would streamline the included local elections by consolidating their procedures. The elections named in the act would be conducted on the same date, with the same dates and processes for filings, campaign finance reports, and declarations of candidacy, thus potentially reducing costs and administrative burdens associated with conducting several different elections with related procedures and timelines.
This is an important bill for democracy. Low turn-out elections are a problem for democracy and elections which are not held at the same time as either the general election or a municipal election have really poor turn out, which can tend to skew things in one direction or another.
HB 225 Live and Archived Public Meetings Webcasts, sponsored by Representative Kelly Fajardo and Representative Jim Smith, passed the committee unanimously! This bill allows for the webcasting and archiving of meetings that are subject to the NM Open Meetings Act. With such a big state, imagine how cool it would be to be able to watch a meeting that is 60 miles away online? Thanks to the committee for supporting transparency in NM – now on to the House Appropriations committee – where it will be tough to get through as any new money just isn’t there. Hopefully the cost will be so minor they pass it too. Please let you legislators know to support HB 225!
HB 206 Unaffiliated Voters in Primary Elections, sponsored by Rep. Stephanie Garcia-Richard and Rep. Jim Dines will allow those voters who are not affiliated with any party vote in the primary of their choice. The bill sponsors got some great feedback from the committee and are committed to making a few amendments and bringing the bill back to be heard on Tuesday in the same committee.
HJR 6 Top Two Candidates Open Primary Elections, sponsored by Rep. Moe Maestas will allow for a completely open primary, where the top two winners go on to the general ballot. This measure was tabled in committee.
HB 226 Minor Party Candidate Nominating Signatures, sponsored by Rep. James Smith – this bill would reduce the number of signatures Minor Party candidates would need to get on the ballot – thus leveling the playing field for those candidates who are not with one of the two major parties. It passed the committee unanimously!
Now for what is coming up!
Friday, February 10
SB 97 Public Financing System “Fix” and SB 96 Campaign Finance Disclosure are up in Senate Judiciary Committee on Friday at 2:30 p.m.
Please contact your legislator and ask them to support SB 96 to ensure that everyone spending large amounts of money in our elections discloses where that money comes from and where it is going! You can locate your legislator here.
SB 96 is not only a priority bill for Common Cause New Mexico this year, but it is also one of only five bills that will be scored for our first NM GPA. Check out our new website to see all bills being scored, our methodology and read about our Four Pillars of Democracy.
This proposed disclosure legislation has passed the Senate FOUR times (the last three unanimously), as well as all House committees in prior years. This bill will overhaul the current law to bring it in line with both recent constitutional rulings and modern campaign practices by:
- Requiring public disclosure of information about the campaign spending of PACs and other non-candidate campaign participants without crossing constitutional boundaries established by the courts
- Requiring independent groups to disclose contributions and expenditures
SB 97 Public Financing of Campaign Fixes, sponsored by Sen. Peter Wirth is also on the agenda for the Senate Judiciary Committee on Friday at 2:30 p.m.
New Mexico currently has three systems for public financing of campaigns: the Public Regulation Commission, Court of Appeals and the NM Supreme Court. This bill fixes current statutory language that is unconstitutional following recent case rulings, it prohibits candidates who run unopposed from receiving more than 10% of the public funding available to them, and prohibits the use of campaign funds for living expenses or compensation to the candidate or candidate’s family.
Monday, February 13
HB 73 Public Officials as Lobbyists sponsored by Rep. Jim Dines, Rep. Joanne Ferrary and Rep. Nathan Small was supposed to be heard today but the sponsors are still working on a few language changes. It will be now be heard on Monday, February 13 at 1:30 in the House Judiciary Committee.
This bill requires legislators to wait two years before registering to lobby at our state legislature in New Mexico. HB73 has already passed its first committee unanimously in the second week of the session. Common Cause New Mexico testified that, “Revolving Door” legislation is important for our legislature to support so that average citizens’ access to their legislators doesn’t feel negated by their relationships and influence of recently retired legislators, many of whom immediately return to the legislature the following year to lobby their former colleagues
Please check in tomorrow for an update from the Common Cause New Mexico team on Friday’s happenings and what bills may be added to the list for the weekend or early next week on the Democracy Wire page of our website!
Tags: Create Redistricting Commissions, Redistricting, Count Every Vote New Mexico, Voting Rights, Disclosure Laws, Disclosure, Fixing Public Campaign Finance, Empowering Small Donors, The Revolving Door