Common Cause New Mexico Outlines Good Government Priorities For 2024 Session

Once again, modernizing the legislative process with longer legislative sessions, salaries for currently unpaid legislators, and permanent district staff for individual legislators is the top priority for Common Cause during the upcoming session.

“For the most part, our current system was set up in 1912, so it’s no wonder that it’s not achieving the outcomes we need in 2023,” said Mason Graham, Common Cause policy director.

“Changing the institution to provide salaries would allow people of every stripe to run for office, not just those who can afford to subsidize their own service. Longer sessions would enable lawmakers to get more done for our state as we grapple with big problems.”

Graham said that last year the legislature passed a measure to study providing year-round staff to help legislators with constituent problems, do more research, attend local meetings and be more responsive outside of the short legislative sessions. “It all adds up to better public service,” he said.

Two of the reform measures—providing salaries for legislators and lengthening the session—require constitutional amendments and will ultimately be placed on the ballot. A measure to lengthen the session to 60 days each year will be carried by Rep. Natalie Figueroa, while the measure to pay legislators will be carried by Rep. Angelica Rubio and Sen. Katy Duhigg. Sen. Linda Lopez pre-filed similar legislation to extend sessions to 60 days.

A poll taken by Common Cause in October of 2022 revealed that 67% of likely voters support paid staff, 70% support longer sessions, 64% support paying legislators, and 84% support more disclosure of incomes by legislators and their families. Support was broad based and included responses from both parties and all parts of the state.

Other bills Common Cause supports:

•A constitutional amendment to create a truly independent redistricting commission with binding map-making abilities, introduced by Sen. Leo Jaramillo and Rep. Natalie Figueroa

•Adequate budgets for the Ethics Commission and Secretary of State to administer elections, ensure transparency and accountability

The 2024 legislative session is a short, 30-day session and bills must receive a message from the Governor to be included on the agenda. If they receive a messages, Common Cause will also be supporting:

•A measure allowing decline-to-state voters to request either a Republican or Democratic ballot and vote in primary elections, sponsored by Rep. Natalie Figueroa and Sen. Bill O’Neill

•A measure sponsored by Rep. Natalie Figueroa to require recusals for school board members voting on issues that pose conflicts of interest

•Additional disclosures to reveal lobbyist activities and compensation (HB 85, introduced by Rep. Joy Garratt)

Common Cause is a nonpartisan grassroots organization dedicated to upholding the core values of American democracy. We work to create open, honest, and accountable government that serves the public interest; promote equal rights, opportunity, and representation for all; and empower all people to make their voices heard as equals in the political process.