The entries for NMEW’s inaugural ethics essay contest are in! Many thanks to the students who took the time to explore the topic, “What does being ethical mean to you?”
The first two commissioners to the fledgling ethics commission have been named: Santa Fe Attorney Stuart Bluestone; and Frances Williams of Las Cruces. (The law enabling the commission goes into effect July 1, 2019.)
When, on the last day of the legislative session, the New Mexico State Senate concurred with the House Amendments to SB 668, the State Ethics Commission Act, the legislature met the demand of more than 75% of New Mexico’s voters who approved the constitutional amendment creating the State Ethics Commission last November. New Mexico voters expected results, and they got them
[Editor’s Note: For those of you unfamiliar with the legislative process – and sometimes even for those of us who are! – the process can seem like the worst way to create good legislation. There can be frustrating last-week maneuvers – like the tabling of HB 4 and the introduction of SB 668 through a dummy bill – and a flurry of amendments that can be hard to follow because they are not online and no one at the hearing, save for the legislators, has the proposed amendments in front of them, in any form. What does not show at the end, however, is the work people have done ahead of time, preparing them for these moments of chaos: whether it be advocacy groups gathering together, on the phone and in the halls of the capitol, examining how the latest suggested amendments might impact the totality of the bill and getting that information to the sponsor and others; legislators having mapped out the process they’d like to see reflected in the legislation on a white board, and then demanding that process; or sponsors working hard behind the scenes to speak with their colleagues either to understand or persuade. Many, many people who have been hoping for the best possible ethics commission enabling legislation have been keeping a close eye on – and speaking up about! – the process and the shifting sands of legislation. Despite how it may seem, the public’s interest, demonstrated by the overwhelming 75% approval for the commission, is being protected and expressed. How things work out in the end remains to be seen, however.]
In the wake of the inability to get HB 4 and the short-lived Senate Rules Committee (SRC) Substitute for SB 619 and HB 4 out of the Rules Committee, Sen. Mimi Stewart used a dummy bill – a blank bill introduced and set aside for use in introducing legislation after the deadline for bill introduction has passed – to introduce Senate Education Committee (SEC) Substitute for SB 668 in the Senate Judiciary Committee (SJC) on Tuesday, March 12th.
Yesterday, we provided an update of where HB 4 (Rep. Daymon Ely) and SB 619 (Sen. Linda Lopez) are in the legislative system at this point. We thought we’d see some movement with SB 619 in the Senate Rules Committee (SRC) today, but the bill was not heard nor a substitute bill introduced today. The Albuquerque Journal took on SB 619 today. In an editorial titled, Lawmakers need to keep your business in the light, the Journal’s editorial board wrote,
Eleven days left in the 2019 legislative session and counting!
The first ethics commission enabling legislation, HB 4, was introduced on February 11th. We’re hearing talk of a substitute bill being introduced in the House Judiciary Committee. We’ve analyzed the bill, in depth…but, rather than spend the time to format that soon-to-be moot analysis, we’ll give you a quick thought about how the bill stacks up against NMEW’s recently-published Essential Elements for an Independent Ethics Commission. At the end of this post, we’ll tack on our detailed analysis. While the text of the bill is linked above, you can find the legislature’s page for the bill here.
And then there were two!
Yesterday, SB 619, the second piece of ethics commission enabling legislation was introduced in the Senate. The bill differs markedly from the previously-introduced HB 4. We’ll be doing a comparison of the bills as we’re able. What we’re giving you now, below, shows how the provisions of SB 619 contain or agree with the necessary elements we identified in our Essential Elements for an Independent Ethics Commission document. While the text of the bill is linked above, you can find the legislature’s page for the bill here.