The good, the bad, and the amended…. how democracy faired at the Roundhouse

Common Cause Applauds Funding to Increase Legislative Staff, Bills to Label “Deep Fakes” and Make School Board Campaigns More Transparent

This year’s 30-day session and a packed agenda left little time for adequate deliberation on many important measures, but several made it through what is currently still an inadequate, abbreviated process.

Common Cause is gratified that this year’s budget includes $6 million for the Legislative Council Service to provide staff for all rank-and-file members of the legislature. Staffing is a key component of modernizing the legislature, which Common Cause has been working on for several years.

Two pillars of upgrading the legislature–providing salaries and longer sessions—were not heard on the House floor. Unlike funding for staff, the other measures require constitutional amendments, which must be approved by the voters.

Common Cause New Mexico will continue to work for a modern, reflective legislature for our state.

Several election-related bills passed:

SB 108, DISTRIBUTION TO ELECTION FUND, sponsored by Sens. Munoz and Rodriguez, provides adequate, stable funding to the Secretary of State’s election fund, which funds counties to run elections. The fund runs short almost every election year and can now be replenished automatically as needed.

SB 5, FIREARMS NEAR POLLING PLACES, sponsored by Sen. Wirth and Rep. Szczepanski, to ban openly carried firearms at polling places. While an amendment to SB 5 will still allow concealed-carry weapons, we are one step closer to prohibiting all guns at the polls with SB 5. This bill in conjunction with last year’s SB 43 will help prevent voter and poll worker intimidation and harassment.

Common Cause is also pleased with the passage of SB 137, SCHOOL BOARD TRAINING, sponsored by Sens. Stewart and Soules, which will require school board candidates to report campaign contributions and spending over $1,000, increasing transparency and consistency in our elections. Currently only the larger districts must report campaign spending.  The bill also requires additional training for board members and webcasting and archiving of all school board meetings.

HB 182, ELECTION CHANGES, sponsored by Rep. Chasey, to require disclaimers on deceptive campaign advertisements using artificial intelligence, including “Deep Fakes,” is a timely and needed addition to the election code.

Common Cause urges citizens to contact the Governor’s office to ask her to sign HB 2, SB 108, SB 5, SB 137, and HB 182.