What financial disclosure forms don’t require reveal as much as what they do

Rep. Candy Spence Ezzell is a race horse owner, as she points out on her Twitter biography and her financial disclosure document. As a Republican lawmaker from Roswell, Ezzell often proposes and advocates for legislation that impacts the racing industry. At least seven of the 13 members of the House Education Committee are current or former educators, and one is a former school board member. At every meeting they take action on legislation that could impact their current or former livelihoods. Then there’s House Speaker Brian Egolf, the Santa Fe Democrat criticized by Republicans for failing to disclose his client – a medical cannabis provider – before the Department of Health.

Lobbyists report spending nearly $292K during session

Lobbyists reported spending nearly $292,000 during the 2017 legislative session, with more to be reported in May. Many of the final reports focused not on buying meals for lawmakers, but on campaigns to lobby them. Two groups, New Mexicans for Comprehensive Energy Solutions and Americans for Comprehensive Energy Solutions, spent spent nearly $16,900 on digital and newspaper advertising to encourage the Legislature to extend renewable energy tax credits. The bills the group supported didn’t make it out of committee. The American Federation of Teachers reported spending $10,000 for a consultant in “issue education for budget and revenue.”

The American Cancer Society Action Network lobbyist reported spending $9,591 on Facebook ads and phone calls urging support of a tax increase on tobacco products, an effort that failed.

Capital outlay reform transformed by Senate into three-year interim study

The New Mexico Senate on Thursday approved a watered-down measure to investigate why nearly $1 billion in infrastructure money remains unspent. Senate Bill 262 next moves to the House with less than two days to go in the 2017 legislative session. The committee in the original bill would have vetted projects that are placed in most annual capital outlay bills by individual lawmakers. But a Senate Finance Committee amendment took away that authority. And a floor amendment restricted the committee to a three-year term.

Infrastructure spending reform bill moves to Senate floor with little time to lose

A measure intended to reform infrastructure spending is headed to the Senate floor after Senate Finance Committee approval Tuesday. But there is limited time to get the measure through the full Legislature to the governor’s desk by the end of the 2017 session at noon on Saturday. An amendment to Senate Bill 262 removes references to a July 1 deadline for state agencies, lawmakers and others to submit projects for consideration. That would take away some of the teeth in what was originally aimed at ending a legislative pork-barrel process. It’s also unclear if the committee would actually rank projects by order of importance, although the amendment includes language prioritizing projects that “fill critical health and safety needs; create jobs” and more.

Legislature passes campaign finance reform years in the making

It’s now up to Republican Gov. Susana Martinez whether New Mexico’s campaign finance disclosure laws will be modernized. The Senate agreed to House amendments to Senate Bills 96 and 97 Tuesday. The House approved the two measures Monday night. SB 96 has the greater impact, aiming for more disclosure from independent spending groups during campaigns. But it also doubles the donation limits for legislators to $5,000 for each primary and general election cycle.

Fixes to NM Campaign Reporting Act near the finish line

The House approved two bills to bring New Mexico’s campaign finance laws up to date Monday night, clearing a years-long hurdle. While Senate Bill 96 clarifies state disclosure law when it comes to independent spending in campaigns, it also doubles contribution limits for lawmakers. It’s likely the Senate will concur with House amendments. The next question is whether Gov. Susana Martinez will sign the measures into law. “It’s a big night,” said Senate Majority Peter Wirth, D-Santa Fe.

Golf gifts up lobbyist spending to nearly $250K, other spending not reported

Lawmakers can look forward to some golfing once the legislative session ends, thanks to $28,000 in gifts from the New Mexico Golf Tourism Alliance. That’s just a portion of the nearly $250,000 lobbyists have reported spending on lawmakers during the session through March 8. The number only includes spending of $500 or more at a time, which lobbyists or their employers are required to report to the Secretary of State within 48 hours. But some lobbying groups question what must be reported now or later when more comprehensive reports are due in May. For instance, neither ProgressNow New Mexico nor Everytown for Gun Safety has reported spending on canvassing to encourage support of House Bill 50, which would expand gun background checks in the state.

Lobbyist give burgers and fries, but it’s not reported

Before the House began to debate a budget on Feb. 22, there were burgers and fries. And there was a thank you from Rep. Patty Lundstrom, the Democratic House Appropriations and Finance Committee chairwoman from Gallup, to the seven lobbyists who bought the food. “Let’s thank them, because we’re getting some real food tonight, Mr. Speaker,” Lundstrom said after citing Vanessa Alarid, Mark Duran, Mark Fleisher, Charlie Marquez, John Thompson, Jason Thompson and Jason Weaks. But spending for that meal doesn’t show up in the latest reports by the lobbyists, because the cost wasn’t $500 or more.

Lawmakers won’t get cut of infrastructure funding pie in 2017

There won’t be any local road repairs, senior center vehicles or shade structures at schools coming from New Mexico lawmakers this year. There’s simply not enough money to sell more than about $63 million in severance tax bonds this year because of the decline in oil and gas revenue nationwide. That’s according to the sponsor of the annual capital outlay bill, Sen. Carlos Cisneros, D-Questa. “It would be a frivolous attempt for us to try to distribute that among 112 members,” Cisneros said. “If anything, right now we’re looking at using it for statewide needs.”

And the amount available won’t go far on statewide requests, which total $359 million.