Lobbying fix faces new opposition

The sponsor of legislation that would require lobbyists to disclose more about what they spend each year on state lawmakers and other public officials said he was considering changing the bill after a fifth state lawmaker publicly stated his opposition Friday morning. “Clearly there is heartburn with some of the progressive ideas that I’ve proposed” in SB 168, Sen. Jeff Steinborn, D-Las Cruces, said. Steinborn’s reconsideration came after Sen. Jacob Candelaria, D-Albuquerque, became the fifth lawmaker on the Senate Rules Committee to openly block the legislation. On Wednesday Candelaria had voted against a motion to not pass SB 168 out of the Senate Rules Committee, joining three other Democrats against four Republican Senators who wanted to table the legislation. The bill’s main goal is to fix a transparency loophole the Legislature created last year that allows lobbyists to disclose much less about how they spend money on public officials.

Lobbyist loophole fix stalls in Senate committee

A state Senate committee failed to muster enough votes Wednesday morning to pass a bill that would fix a transparency loophole the Legislature created last year. But the bill sponsor said he’ll try again to get the measure through the Rules Committee. The loophole allows lobbyists to disclose much less about how they spend money on public officials than they used to. It removed a requirement for lobbyists to report expenses spent on individual lawmakers below $100. Previously, lobbyists had to report all spending, itemizing expenses spent above $75 per lawmaker and reporting the cumulative amount of expenses below $75 per lawmaker.

Competing ethics proposals raise questions of secrecy and oversight

Last week marked the start of the 12th installment of a long-running debate among New Mexico state lawmakers. In previous years the discussion could be summed up in two questions: Should the Legislature create an independent ethics commission; and, if so, what form should it take? The perennial answer to the first question was “no ethics commission this year,” rendering moot the second as to the shape and form it would take. This year, unlike in previous sessions, however, state lawmakers will be able to debate both questions at once. With positive votes from the House State Government, Indian & Veterans’ Affairs committee on Jan.

New Mexico special session costs: By the numbers

As New Mexico’s special legislative session begins its seventh day, here are two quick charts that give a historical perspective on how much a special session costs. Since 1990, lawmakers have held 17 special sessions at a total cost of $5.2 million for 129 days. That’s based on data from Legislative Service Council. Here’s a look at the total cost of each of those sessions:

That’s an average cost per day of $40,461, though average costs per day have ranged from about $17,841 in 2007, a year in which the Senate met fewer days, to $65,405 in 2002 for a single-day session. Here’s a look at the number of days of each session, the month they were held, the total cost and the average cost.

Join us next month for Transparency Summer Camps

Want to empower yourself with mad analytical skills to become a better citizen and government watchdog? Are you a reporter and looking for helpful tools to interrogate New Mexico’s unwieldy campaign finance system? Join us for two seminars July 21 in Las Cruces and July 23 in Albuquerque featuring NMID’s Sandra Fish and Foundation for Open Government (FOG) Executive Director Susan Boe.