Lobbying disclosure bill sees the light at the end of the tunnel

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With less than 48 hours left in this year’s 30-day session, legislation that would force lobbyists to return to an old standard of disclosing what they spend to influence public officials, including state lawmakers, might make it to the governor’s desk.

House leadership says Senate Bill 67 won’t face challenges if it comes to the House floor.

The bill would  restore  to 100 percent the amount of expenditures lobbyists are required to publicly report. It cleared the Senate last week, and  passed with little debate through its first House committee this morning. Next step is passing the House Judiciary Committee.

HJC  chairwoman Gail Chasey, D-Albuquerque,  told New Mexico In Depth that it’ll be heard tomorrow.

“Anything that’s being referred to us today, I expect to hear in committee tomorrow,” she said

House Speaker Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe, told New Mexico In Depth  he supports the bill  and it would not face challenges on the House floor.

As NMID reported Monday, this bill is the least controversial in terms of transparency measures. It simply fixes a mistake the Legislature made in 2016 with the adoption of HB 105.

In 2017 lawmakers pushed through a legislative fix, but Gov. Susana Martinez vetoed the measure—citing grammatical concerns meaning the bill could be read two ways.

The problem came about in 2016, when  legislators in a bill requiring lobbyists to file reports online, also eliminated a requirement for lobbyists to report their cumulative spending.

Instead, the bill required lobbyists to report each separate expenditure of $75 or more during the reporting period. The bill was amended in a House committee, increasing the reporting floor from $75 to $100. That amended bill was adopted in 2016, effectively ending a requirement that lobbyists report expenditures below $100.

New Mexico In Depth reporter Sandra Fish caught the reduced requirements in financial reporting after the session concluded in 2016, at which time Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto, D-Albuquerque, said the reduction in reporting was unintentional.

NMID interviewed Ivey-Soto before the session about the bill, and he said he’d modified the the language to satisfy Gov. Susana Martinez’s previous concerns, saying that she  encouraged the legislation despite her  veto.

 

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