Tabled: Plan to limit double-dipping by lawmakers

A proposal that would have prevented state lawmakers with government jobs from getting paid while serving in the Legislature was put on hold Monday by the House Government, Elections and Indian Affairs Committee. Rep. Bill Rehm, R-Bernalillo, said his goal with the bill (HB 39)was to keep the state government from paying people twice. Many of New Mexico’s part-time civilian legislators have days jobs in local government, and although state lawmakers are unpaid for their service, they do receive mileage reimbursement and a per-diem to cover travel expenses. Rehm said allowing public employees to take a salary while serving in Santa Fe would violate the state constitution. Members of the committee took issue with forcing state employees to take time off of work.

Gov. Martinez Uses Speech to Encourage Government Reform

Just two days after former Secretary of State Dianna Duran was released from county jail, Gov. Susana Martinez used a small part of her fifth State of the State address to support government accountability efforts. The nod from the governor came on the same day that good government group Common Cause released the results of a statewide survey showing broad support for ethics and campaign finance reforms. About 85 percent of New Mexicans want the legislature to create an independent ethics commission, according to the poll, conducted in December by Research and Polling, Inc.

But poll numbers don’t offer reform advocates any assurance that their ideas will translate into votes of support or the governor’s signature. Bills that would create some form of ethics commission have languished in Santa Fe for years. In her hour-long address to state lawmakers, Martinez focused on fighting violent crime, improving education and advancing economic development proposals, but she specifically mentioned the need to improve campaign finance reporting and close the revolving door between lawmakers and lobbyists. She called for changes to the state’s much-maligned capital outlay process, saying: “We need to fix the way we spend infrastructure money, because the way projects are funded now leads to unmet regional and state needs, and a string of projects that haven’t been vetted and can’t be completed.” And she said there should be full disclosure by individual lawmakers of the projects they choose to fund with their personal pots of capital outlay money.