More Lobbyist Disclosure Heads to the Senate
HB 155 to require more disclosure from lobbyists passed the House floor this evening 63-0! We are thrilled with all the hard work that went into the bill and thank the sponsor, Rep. Jeff Steinborn – Las Cruces, for carrying this important piece of transparency legislation. And now for a little history…
The bill was amended in the House Public and Regulatory Affairs committee after it was first tabled (tabled meaning it is done for the session) – it originally contained language requiring employers of lobbyists to do an estimated expense report and required lobbyists to report who benefits from their expenditures. Some committee members felt the estimated expense report went too far in asking for salaries of private employees, and the Secretary of State said the current reporting system couldn’t handle estimated reports, so the committee tabled the bill.
We then worked with all committee members to address their concerns and get it pulled off the table and moving again – and we agreed to taking the estimated reports provision out because getting legislation passed is about compromise, and working for more transparency is often a step-by-step process. Plus, if the reporting system couldn’t handle the request then we knew an appropriation would be added – something that is truly a death knell to a bill in a year with shrinking revenues!
The other amendment in that committee was a surprise – Rep. Nora Espinoza introduced one to remove the provision requiring lobbyists to report the recipients of their expenditures – we did not want that removed, but again, compromise is the way things go in the Roundhouse. And we were still very happy with the bill!
Today Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard – Los Alamos offered a floor amendment to the bill to restore all of the original provisions. Rep. Garcia Richard is a true transparency champion, and we love working with her! Which is why it was difficult to not support her good intentions – but as noted above, we had worked with other Representatives to get the bill off the table in committee and moving again, and we don’t go back on our word. We have to navigate a difficult balance at times – pushing for full transparency and disclosure while at the same time being willing to compromise and not throw away the good in search of the perfect.
We would really like to see the recipient requirement passed in New Mexico because we believe it will help restore faith in government by having more information available to the public, and we hope to work with both sides of the aisle in the future to see it included in the Lobbyist Regulation Act in New Mexico. But for now, the following provisions are included in the bill and it has passed the House:
- 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.
- Require lobbyists to report which issue or piece of legislation is discussed with legislators so the public knows who is lobbying for particular legislation in New Mexico.
- 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.
More Access for New Mexicans Moves in Committee
HB 392 to require audio and video streaming of public meetings is being carried by Rep. Kelly Fajardo – Tome, and we were proud to be there this morning to support her bill in the House Government, Elections and Indian Affairs Committee. Common Cause New Mexico was joined by the League of Women Voters New Mexico, the American Association of University Women New Mexico and others who recognize that in a big state like New Mexico, sometimes it is too far to get to a meeting you are interested in attending! This is a great bill for access and transparency and we are so happy Rep. Fajardo’s bill passed committee 8-0 and heads off for the difficult journey through House Appropriations. Fingers crossed we can find a little cash to get this going!