Senate Rules quick to pass lobbyist loophole fix

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The Senate Rules committee made quick work this morning passing a bill to reverse a measure in 2016 that reduced the amount of spending lobbyists are required to report.

This year’s bill, sponsored by Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto, D-Albuquerque, is included on the so-called “rocket docket,” a list of bills assigned to just one committee with the goal of fast-tracking them for signature by New Mexico’s new Democratic governor, Michelle Lujan Grisham.

The rocket docket bills all previously passed the Legislature only to be vetoed by former Republican governor Susana Martinez.

In her speech to a joint session of the Legislature on opening day, Lujan Grisham singled out Ivey-Soto’s bill, saying she favored signing the lobbyist disclosure measure.

In front of the Senate Rules committee today, Ivey-Soto gave a familiar rundown of what happened in 2016, explaining that a bill he sponsored that year “inadvertently” dropped requirements that lobbyists report spending under $100. This year’s bill, SB 191, would require such reporting in the aggregate.

Back in 2016, New Mexico In Depth caught the lessening of disclosure rules after the bill passed, which Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto quickly labeled a mistake. Ivey-Soto in subsequent years set out to reverse the measure, with the Legislature successfully passing his fix in 2017 and 2018. Both were vetoed by the former governor.

Ivey-Soto said in his committee testimony today he found the second veto “perplexing” because he had worked with the Martinez administration to rewrite his bill in 2018 to their satisfaction, and the governor still vetoed it. “None of us can fully explain it,” he said.

“The reality is that right now what we’re trying to do is plug the hole” made by the 2016 bill, he said. He responded to questions in part by saying that the fix only requires aggregate reporting, lobbyist won’t be required to detail spending under $100.

The bill now heads to the Senate floor for passage, and from there it’ll go to the House.

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