Legislative leader says dummy bills from now on are emergency bills

SANTA FE—State lawmakers on Thursday employed a rare procedural move to revive legislation that, it turns out, was only playing possum. Thursday’s action demonstrated why you can never say a bill is dead and how swiftly state lawmakers can pass a bill when they want. State lawmakers often speak of the sacredness of the legislative committee process, a check to rash decisions. However, “dummy” bills can be used as a workaround to that process, which is what happened Thursday. “Dummy” bills, which New Mexico In Depth wrote about Thursday morning — are quirks of the Legislature.

Dummy bills obscure how Legislature works

Lawmakers sometimes use “dummy” bills at the end of each legislative session to resurrect dead bills, to push through eleventh-hour measures or to respond to emergencies. But even veteran observers of New Mexico’s legislative process can find that “dummy” bills obscure an already opaque process. “Dummy” bills are usually—but not always—vehicles state lawmakers use after the deadline passes for introducing new legislation. Some legislators have expressed an interest in challenging the “dummy” bill process in the interest of shining more light on the legislative process. In an effort to pull back the curtain, New Mexico In Depth examined 116 dummy bills by searching for legislation titled “PUBLIC PEACE, HEALTH, SAFETY & WELFARE,” a dead giveaway of a generic —“dummy” bill.

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

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.

‘Nothing ever dies’ at the Roundhouse, except maybe transparency

Gov. Susana Martinez wants each state lawmaker to disclose how much he or she spends on projects around the state. Making their emails public would be nice, too. However, the governor isn’t keen on sharing information about legal settlements the state negotiates. As for state lawmakers, they aren’t rushing to support calls from Martinez or some of their colleagues to shine more light on how the Legislature works. Legislation that would help New Mexicans better understand New Mexico state government is going nowhere fast in the legislative session that ends Thursday, a review by New Mexico In Depth has found.

Sexual misconduct allegations simmer at the Roundhouse

SANTA FE— Lobbyist Vanessa Alarid described feeling like “a deer in the headlights” upon seeing Thomas Garcia at the Roundhouse on Wednesday. It was their first run-in since last month when Alarid accused Garcia, a former Democratic representative, of sexual misconduct. Alarid might be seeing more of Garcia. He might be seeing more of her, too. Garcia told New Mexico In Depth he is considering running for Rep. Tomás Salazar’s (D-Las Vegas) seat in District 70.