Our Most Successful Session In Over A Decade!
The 2019 NM Legislative Session ended on Saturday with ALL SIX of CCNM’s priority bills PASSED by both chambers, and these bills are awaiting Governor Michelle Lujan-Grisham’s signature!
As you may recall, CCNM set out an ambitious legislative agenda for this session, which included legislation for increased campaign finance reporting requirements, updating our state’s public financing program, increased voting access through automatic voter registration and same-day voter registration, including New Mexico as part of the National Popular Vote Compact, and enabling legislation for an effective Independent Ethics Commission that will operate in an open and transparent manner for the public.
SB 3, Campaign Finance Reporting, sponsored by Sen. Peter Wirth
This bill will help to shine a light on “dark money” through increased disclosure requirements for donors to political campaigns and define requirements for independent expenditure reporting in our elections.
SB 4, Campaign Public Financing Changes, sponsored by Sen. Peter Wirth
This bill will extend the qualifying period for candidates for the PRC and statewide judicial offices to help allow candidates to qualify for the program, as well as restrict how those public funds may be used your the candidate’s campaigns (i.e. not to pay immediate family members for campaign duties).
This bill is a culmination of a bipartisan collaborative effort between members of both the House and the Senate that combined language from two other ethics commission bills that were introduced this session: HB 4, sponsored by Rep. Daymon Ely & Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto, and Senate Rules Committee Substitute Bill for SB 619, sponsored by Sen. Linda Lopez.
If signed, this legislation will provide the Independent Ethics Commission the policy guidelines and statutory authority necessary for the commission’s process and operations. Initially, HB 4, supported by CCNM, Ethics Watch, The League of Women Voters, NM First, the Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce and NM Association of Commerce & Industry, was passed by the House, but then tabled in its first hearing by the Senate Rules Committee. However, at this same hearing, the Senate Rules Committee Substitute for SB 619 was also tabled by the committee.
Seeing that neither of these two bills were going to be able to move forward, Sen. Mimi Stewart took language from each of these bills and drafted it into SB 668. SB 668 was a “dummy bill” that leadership in each chamber is assigned at the beginning of every legislative session and is introduced prior to the bill introduction deadline. These bills may then be used expressly for the purpose of amending legislation into them later in the session, when legislation stymies and needs to be reworked in order to move something forward. The rules for the substitution of language into a “dummy bill” must be done either during a full committee hearing, or on the chamber floor while the chamber is in session, so that it is done out in the open before the members and the pubic.
The result of the combined efforts of the leadership and members of both chambers was the unanimous passage of SB 668 in the final three days of the session! The State Ethics Commission Act embodies many of the best Principles of an Effective Ethics Commission that CCNM drafted and publicized last year with input from advocacy groups around the state and national ethics experts. SB 668 includes: the statutes within the Commission’s jurisdiction and whom those statutes cover (such as state elected officials, candidates, lobbyists and contractors, etc.), outlined the qualifications for the Executive Director, General Counsel and Commissioners, a process for how complaints will be investigated by the Commission and its staff, when and how those complaints will be made public, the timelines for investigations and the setting of public hearings, the issuance and publication of advisory opinions by the Commission and much more.
While not perfect, SB 668 provides for an efficient and transparent process for this Commission to provide a “one-stop-shop” for the public to file complaints when they have a concern or issue regarding individuals covered by the Campaign Reporting Act, the Voter Action Act, the Gift Act, the Lobbyist Reporting Act, the Governmental Conduct Act, the Financial Disclosure Act, the Procurement Code, and Article 9, Section 14 of the constitution of New Mexico.
Our HUGE thanks to: NM Ethics Watch, The League of Women Voters, NM First, the Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce and NM Association of Commerce & Industry for their vocal and strong support throughout the legislative session. Leadership from each of these advocacy groups came to every committee hearing to speak on behalf of their members for good ethics legislation.
This bill puts voter registration options into statute that allows for eligible citizens to choose whether or not they would like to be registered to vote while renewing or getting their driver’s license at the MVD, a process that has already been done through administrative rules by the NM Secretary of State for several years.
Additionally, this bill also changes the current voter registration deadline to be up until, and on the same day as, Election Day at most voting registration sites and polling locations around the state.
Once signed, this bill enters New Mexico into a compact with other states that will allow New Mexico’s electoral votes to go to the presidential candidate who wins the majority of the national popular vote. This compact ensures that the presidential candidate who wins the most votes in the country, also wins the necessary total of 270 electoral votes to be elected to the presidency.
There were many other good government reforms that moved forward through our legislative process this year. We will highlight those in our next blog update.
What do we need you to do?
Your phone calls and emails helped us pass these priority bills this session, and now we need you to speak up one more time and ask our new Governor, Michelle Lujan-Grisham, to sign these bills into law! All legislation must either be signed or vetoed by April 5, so please make your voices heard today!
Together, we are building a better democracy here in New Mexico.