By CCNM CEO Mario Jimenez
Modernizing the legislative process with more staff, longer sessions and compensation for lawmakers is the top priority for Common Cause New Mexico (CCNM) in the upcoming session. The bipartisan good government group will also push for further fixes to campaign finance and disclosure laws, and protections for election officials from intimidation.
“This year we have an historic revenue surplus, so there’s no time like now to make some permanent institutional changes in the legislative process to help the citizens of New Mexico with additional constituent services, more robust policy-making, and more opportunities for civic participation in the often opaque, convoluted process,” said CCNM Executive Director Mario Jimenez.
Jimenez stressed the importance of providing professional staff for hard-pressed lawmakers who — for most of the year — answer their own phones, do their own research, and spend “all night” getting work done during short legislative sessions .
“The people of New Mexico deserve better,” he said.
in Oct 2022, Common Cause’s annual survey found that 67 percent of likely voters support paid staff, 70 percent longer sessions, 64 percent paying lawmakers, and 84 percent more disclosure of income by lawmakers and their families. The support was broad and included responses from both parties and all parts of the state.
Two of the reform measures require constitutional changes. A measure up putting the issue of extending the session on the ballot is carried by Rep. Natalie Figueroa as HJR 2.
Rep. Angelica Rubio will take action to set up a Citizens’ Commission on Legislative Salaries to set and cap salaries for lawmakers pending a voter referendum. A bill to fund staff for legislators is being drafted. No constitutional amendment is required.
Other bills on Common Cause’s priority list:
- A bill to tighten the Campaign Reporting Act to require greater disclosure of campaign credits, sponsored by Sens. Peter Wirth and Katy Duhigg;
- A invoice protect election officials and employees of county officials and the secretary of state from intimidation by Senator Katy Duhigg;
- HJR 1, sponsored by Rep. Natalie Figueroa to amend the Constitution to provide a truly independent District Redistribution Commission; and
- A Senate bill conducted by Sens. Peter Wirth and Kay Duhigg to enact stricter disclosure requirements for lawmakers and other elected officials.
Other invoices supported by Common Cause create open primaries where (independent) voters who opposed the state could choose either a Democratic or Republican ballotand additional disclosures to disclose lobbying activities and compensation.