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

For Immediate Release: Feb. 15, 2024

Contact: Molly Swank, Executive Director, Common Cause New Mexico, 608-290-9157 or

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 now 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.

“Legislators must now juggle constituent service, policy research and attendance at local and interim committee meetings, all without personal staff,” says Molly Swank, Executive Director, Common Cause New Mexico. “It’s a heavy burden, born by unpaid legislators, and we are hopeful that non-partisan staff will improve both the quality of legislation and responsiveness to citizens.”

Swank said she was disappointed that the other 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.

“We’ll be back next year to work on the amendments,” she said.

Swank praised the passage of several election-related bills:

SB 108, sponsored by Sen. 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 as needed.

 SB 5, sponsored by Sen. Wirth and Rep. Szczepanski, to ban openly- carried firearms at polling places.

“Although this bill was not as strong as we would like, it will help defuse the tension that we have seen on the ground in our highly contested elections,” Swank said.

“Combined with last year’s SB 43, which makes outright intimidation and threats of violence at a polling place a 4th degree felony, we hope this will make polling places safer in the upcoming election.”

Common Cause is also pleased with the passage of SB 137, 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. “As curricula, sports, and school-health measures have become politicized, this is really important,” said Swank.

HB 182, 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, according to Swank. “The passage of this bill, with bipartisan support, was a pleasant surprise.”

Common Cause urges citizens to contact the Governor’s office to ask her to sign HB2, SB 108, SB 5, SB 137, and HB 182.

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.