Four ethics bills clear first House committee

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Four bills aimed at improving governmental ethics cleared their first House committee Thursday.

Here’s a look at the bills approved by the House State Government, Indian and Veterans’ Affairs Committee:

  • House Bill 10 would create a public accountability board to consider complaints against members of state and local government. But complaints against sitting lawmakers would still be considered by a legislative ethics committee.  The measure passed on a 6-3 vote, and next goes to the House Judiciary Committee. Representatives of the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government and the Rio Grande Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists objected to the measure, saying it isn’t transparent enough and removes enforcement of the open meetings act from the attorney general’s office. The measure wouldn’t take until July 1, 2019.
  • House Joint Resolution 8 would ask voters in 2018 to approve a constitutional amendment creating an independent ethics commission that would oversee complaints against the governor, officials at executive branch agencies, state contractors, lobbyists and state lawmakers, regarding campaign finance, lobbying and more. The measure passed on an 8-1 vote, and must also be approved by the House Judiciary and Local Government, Elections, Land Grants and Cultural Affairs committees. Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver said she preferred an independent ethics commission over the accountability board, though she supports both.
  • House Bill 73 would prohibit lawmakers and other former elected officials from serving as paid lobbyists for two years after they leave office. The committee approved it unanimously; it next goes to the House Judiciary Committee.
  • House Bill 93 would prohibit cabinet secretaries from receiving payment from sources outside state government. The committee approved it unanimously; it next goes to the House Judiciary Committee. The measure comes after Demesia Padilla’s resignation as tax and revenue secretary due to an investigation of potential payments from those outside government.

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