NEW MEXICO Lots of Bills, and of course, a setback

NEW MEXICO Lots of Bills, and of course, a setback

Common Cause New Mexico is working to overcome objections and advance bills that will impact State Government

It was bound to happen – a setback.

SB 168 Lobbyist Reporting Requirements and Fees sponsored by Sen. Jeff Steinborn was heard in the Senate Rules Committee this morning.

And unfortunately, it was tabled on a 4-4 vote. Now a “table” usually means the bill is dead for the session – but after a few conversations with those Senators voting against the bill, we are very hopeful that some amendments can be introduced and the bill can be pulled off the table and have another debate. We will keep you up to date about those amendments and when it might come back up.

This biggest concern expressed today was that the bill will require lobbyists to report every penny they spend on a legislator, and how much they spend. The legislators voting against the bill said that having to report every cup of coffee they buy a legislator is too much and a burden on lobbyists.

New Mexico lags far behind other states in Updating the Lobbyist Regulation Act. Recent data shows a 6:1 ratio of lobbyists to each state legislator – that puts New Mexico’s citizens at an alarming disadvantage to have their voice heard.

To update the Lobbyist Regulation Act we must:

  • Raise the filing fee for lobbyists and their employers from $50 to $100
  • Amend the statute to require that all expenditures are reported, if the aggregate thereof equals $100 or more
  • Require lobbyists to report which legislative or administrative issue for which they have been employed to discuss with legislators so that the public knows who is lobbying for which legislation in New Mexico

SB 168 is one of our 2017 SCORED BILLS and votes to table this bill (or by not being present to vote in committee without an excused absence) will have a negative impact on the legislator’s score.

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

Thursday, February 9

A slew of bills will be heard in the House Local Government, Elections, Land Grants and Cultural Affairs committee on Thursday, February 8 at 1:30 p.m.

Two of them address the primary system in New Mexico – HB 206, Unaffiliated Voters in Primary Elections, sponsored by Rep. Moe Maestas, and HJR 6, Top Two Candidates Open Primary Elections, sponsored by Rep. Stephanie Garcia-Richard and Rep. Jim Dines.

HB 206 will allow those voters who are not affiliated with any party vote in the primary of their choice, and HJR 6 will allow for a completely open primary, where the top two winners go on to the general ballot.

Also on the agenda is 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.

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.

SB96 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 9, 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.

Please check in tomorrow for an update from the Common Cause New Mexico team on Thursday’s happenings and what bills may be added to the list for Friday….Or even Saturday… at 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!