Reason to celebrate!
The 2023 New Mexico Legislative session has officially come to a close — and there are big reasons to celebrate with you, our supporters who have been there every step of the way.
Our pro-democracy priority bills have been passed by the Legislature! Please take a minute to send Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham a message urging her to sign them into law.
The New Mexico Voting Rights Act (HB 4)
This monumental legislation includes the Native American Voting Rights Act to ensure better access to the ballot for historically disenfranchised New Mexicans while respecting tribal sovereignty. It also restores the voting rights of people leaving incarceration. The NM Voting Rights Act creates a permanent absentee voter list and automatically registers voters through the Motor Vehicle Division.
Election Changes (SB 180)
SB 180 codifies in statute the voting administration procedures successfully implemented to improve access to the polls amid the pandemic – some of these include voting convenience centers, secure ballot drop boxes, and clear deadlines for mailing absentee ballots. This law requires training for poll watchers and challenges and includes measures to ensure election security and integrity.
Intimidation of Election Officials (SB 43)
This new law extends the protection against intimidation and harassment already guaranteed to voters to include poll workers and elections administrators. At a time when political violence and election denialism is at an all-time high, including here in New Mexico, our essential poll workers are getting the protection they deserve.
Despite our big democracy wins, we also had a few disappointments.
Two important constitutional amendments to modernize the New Mexico Legislature failed to advance — HJR 2 and HJR 8. The constitutional amendments would have allowed the voters to decide on whether they wanted to change provisions of the 1912 constitution to allow legislators to be paid and to extend the length of legislative sessions.
New Mexico currently has the only unpaid legislature in the country and—with 30-day sessions in even numbered years and 60-day sessions in odd—has the third shortest number of days in session. Longer sessions and paid lawmakers are essential reforms to ensure a more diverse legislature, better constituent services, and improved policy outcomes.
Despite the setbacks on HJR 2 and HJR 8, the groundwork has been laid for these overdue reforms, and we know the public is behind us. Our 2022 polling shows that more than 2/3 of likely New Mexico voters want to modernize our legislature. With your support, we will continue to work with the sponsors in the House to build momentum over the interim.
There was a bright spot for modernization included in HB 1. Funds have been allocated to study how New Mexico would provide year-round staffing and district offices for all legislators. Currently, New Mexico is one of only two states that does not offer staff for all members — only leadership positions now have full-time permanent staff.
Dark money continues to be shrouded in secrecy after a bill to close some loopholes in the Campaign Reporting Act failed on the House floor this week. Despite its easy passage in the Senate and House committees, SB 42 to shine a light on independent expenditures, require better disclosure of advocacy activities, and ensure loans made to campaigns are fully documented was voted down on the House floor by a vote of 33-36.
We will continue to support the work of the State Ethics Commission, the Office of the Secretary of State, and legislative champions to advocate for more transparency of campaign finances.
Through all the highs and lows of this session, we’ve been grateful for your enduring support. We know that driving impactful change takes time. We hope you’ll join us in celebrating the wins we achieved together, and rally again as we keep fighting for good government here in our beloved New Mexico.