NEW MEXICO What a Way to Celebrate President’s Day!

Posted by Heather Ferguson and Viki Harrison on February 20, 2017


New Mexico Legislative Session

Student Advocacy Day at the Round House!

We had so much fun with our partner organizations and all the students who showed up to advocate for issues they cared about – it was a fantastic start to the holiday! After receiving training on advocacy, including role-playing and information on the legislative process, our students went across the street to the Roundhouse and met with their legislators. Nothing makes a bigger difference than when a legislator gets a visit from one of their constituents! And you don’t have to wait until the session – in fact, since they are at home most of the time, call them up and have a cup of coffee in May and let them know what you care about in your community!

Senate Floor = Democracy Wins Monday

SENATE BILL 97, sponsored by Senator Peter Wirth, will fix New Mexico’s existing system of public campaign financing – and it passed the Senate UNANIMOUSLY! New Mexico currently has three systems for public financing of campaigns: the Public Regulation Commission, Court of Appeals and the NM Supreme Court. These are all wildly popular with candidates, and this bill will clean up the Act, and allow candidates to raise up to $100 per contributor. The current system was designed to allow for “matches” when a publicly financed candidate is outspent by PACs or privately financed candidates. Unfortunately, the US Supreme Court struck down the matching part in 2011, and by allowing candidates to raise $100 from citizens, we are empowering them to fight big money by qualifying for public financing and still raising a little extra to combat the larger bank account from those who don’t take public financing. Now we are off to the House – please take a moment to thank your State Senator for supporting this fantastic bill that doesn’t cost the state any money, nor does it expand the program!

SB 42, Agreement to Elect President by Popular Vote, sponsored by Sen. Mimi Stewart, also passed the Senate floor today! We are so proud of Sen. Stewart and our national partner organization, National Popular Vote and Barry Fadem, for all their work with us on this initiative in NM. States currently have the power to award their electors to the winner of the national popular vote, although this would be disadvantageous to the state that did this unless it was joined simultaneously by other states that represent a majority of electoral votes. Hence the National Popular Vote plan is an interstate compact—a type of state law authorized by the U.S. Constitution that enables states to enter a legally enforceable contractual obligation to undertake agreed joint actions, which may be delayed in implementation until a requisite number of states join in. There are more than a thousand interstate compacts, and each state in the United States belongs to dozens of them. The U.S. Supreme Court has authorized electoral compacts in "dicta" and several other electoral compacts have been proposed in the past.

And the wins continued Monday Afternoon!

HB 174 Local Election Act, sponsored by Rep. James Smith and Sen. Ivey-Soto, passed the House Judiciary Committee on a 7-2 vote – now to the House floor!

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 poor turn out, which can tend to skew things in one direction or another.

Tuesday February 21

HB 399, Campaign Public Financing Changes, sponsored by Rep. Matthew McQueen and Rep. Patricio Ruiloba, will expand the state’s public financing to include candidates for Secretary of State. The bill will be heard on Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. in the House Local Government, Elections, Land Grants and Cultural Affairs Committee.

Today's campaigns are so expensive that often only the wealthy -- or those willing to accept the strings attached to large campaign contributions -- can afford to run for office.

Public financing allows candidates to rely on small donations from individuals and matching grants, while not allowing themselves to become beholden to large donors.

Thursday February 23

HJR3, Independent Redistricting Commission, sponsored by Rep. Carl Trujillo, Sen. Bill O’Neill and Sen. Mark Moores, is scheduled for a hearing next Thursday, February 23 at 1:30 p.m. in the House Local Government, Elections, Land Grants and Cultural Affairs 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.

Please check in for an update from the Common Cause New Mexico team tomorrow so see what bills may be added to the committee calendar on the Democracy Wire page of our website!

Follow us on Twitter @commoncausenm & like us on Facebook for mid-day updates and remember to CALL YOUR LEGISLATORS!

Office: Common Cause National, Common Cause New Mexico

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

Tags: Fixing Public Campaign Finance, Empowering Small Donors, Count Every Vote New Mexico, National Popular Vote, Access to Voting , Registration and Voting Systems, Create Redistricting Commissions, Redistricting

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