What’s your legislator’s GPA?

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  • Heather Ferguson

New Mexico’s citizens are getting an exciting new tool to hold elected officials accountable as we enter into the 2017 state legislative session.  

This year, Common Cause New Mexico is going beyond tracking good government legislation and is launching a new website and scoring system.

The New Mexico GPA will score elected officials on how they vote on key bills that relate to four essential democracy pillars:

  1. Reducing the influence of money in politics and increasing transparency
  2. Good government reforms
  3. Ensuring voter access
  4. Democracy 911, which can be any timely issue for the legislature to address

A number of other interest groups regularly produce a legislative scorecard based on up-or-down floor votes on their issues but this is a first for the non-partisan group.

We have devised a clear methodology system that will reflect the importance of both committee votes and floor votes for good government bills. “Each legislator has a different number of opportunities to do the right – or the wrong – thing,“ said Heather Ferguson, legislative director of Common Cause New Mexico, “and this report card will result in a grade point average (GPA) for each legislator that will reflect all of their actions on the bills we are scoring in 2017.”

Common Cause New Mexico is scoring legislators on five of its priority bills this session:

Senate Bill 96, sponsored by Sen. Peter Wirth and Rep. Jim Smith on campaign finance disclosure

A bill sponsored by Sen. Jeff Steinborn on requiring increased lobbyist regulation and reporting requirements

A constitutional amendment to create an independent ethics commission, sponsored by Rep. Jim Dines and Sen. Jeff Steinborn

HJR 4, sponsored by Rep. Javier Martinez, Rep. Liz Thomson and Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto on a constitutional amendment providing for automatic voter registration

HJR 3, sponsored by Rep. Carl Trujillo, Sen. Bill O’Neill and Sen. Mark Moores on a constitutional amendment to establish an independent redistricting commission

Other bills may be added to the list as the session proceeds, Ferguson says.  Legislators will be notified in advance of votes and the results will be published after the session ends in March. 

For more information on Common Cause New Mexico’s scorecard, including an explanation of the GPA methodology used, go to www.nmgpa.org.