Eleven days left in the 2019 legislative session and counting!
To date, two State Ethics Commission Act bills have been introduced: HB 4 and SB 619. Here’s what’s going on with both of them:
The Ethics Commission Working Group that New Mexico Ethics Watch (NMEW) participated in this summer and fall was co-chaired by Sen. Linda Lopez and former Rep. Jim Dines. That group, with the assistance of NMEW and others, put together a draft bill. Although there were areas within the bill, such as transparency, that could not be agreed upon, much of what appears in that draft bill was discussed and a consensus among working group participants was gained. Surprisingly, SB 619 does not approximate the working group’s draft bill, while HB 4 does. Rep. Ely, the sponsor of HB 4, attended several working group meetings, where he actively participated. The HB 4 substitute, as amended, meets many of the nine elements NMEW set out in its Essential Elements for an Independent Ethics Commission document, published on January 24, 2019. SB 619 does not.
NMEW has thought from the outset that SB 619 was a placeholder for something other. (In part because it was a rehash of Sen. Lopez’s 2017 SB 218, and in part because it did not approximate the working group’s draft bill, upon which much discussion was had and about much of which consensus was reached.) As mentioned above, the bill has yet to be even discussed, let alone voted upon by the SRC. We’ll see if tomorrow’s SRC hearing changes that! We anticipate, though, that a substitute for SB 619 will be introduced, potentially incorporating some or many provisions of the HB 4 substitute.
In the meantime, we have the substitute for HB 4, as amended, crossing from the House to the Senate. Is it a perfect bill? No. Does it meet or contain many of the elements NMEW identified in its Essential Elements document? Yes.
Tomorrow we’ll take an in-depth look at how the HB 4 substitute stacks up against our Essential Elements document.