Commentary: Common Cause New Mexico today unveiled its statewide Legislative Summary and Scorecard, recording the votes of legislators on its priority transparency, ethics and good government issues during the 2015 and 2016 sessions. The scorecard reports the votes cast by legislators on a number of crucial bills on the floor of both chambers and in committees. It reflects the fate of the bills—passage, defeat, delay or death in committee.
The scorecard does not rank legislators as champions or opponents but simply highlights their votes on issues such as an independent ethics commission, lobbyist reporting requirements, disclosure of independent spending, 17-year old voting rights, public financing, tighter campaign reporting requirements and an independent redistricting commission.
“The report is in keeping with our pledge that everyone—legislators, lobbyists and advocates—needs to be held accountable for their actions, their votes, their contributions and expenditures,” said Viki Harrison, director of Common Cause New Mexico.
“Everyone deserves to know how their legislator votes on issues affecting money in politics, and this report card is our first effort to record the votes of elected officials on these issues,” states Heather Ferguson, the group’s legislative director. “It will not be our last.” Ferguson said the report is an educational piece that does not advocate for the election or defeat of any legislator or candidate.
The scorecard tracks votes on five bills in 2015 and six bills in 2016.
Votes highlighted in the 2015 session include HB 155, which tightened legislative reporting and passed; HB 278, which increased independent expenditure disclosure and failed; HB 151, which allowed 17-year olds to vote in primaries and failed; HB 241, which slowed the revolving door for legislators becoming lobbyists and failed, and SB 58, which brought the state’s public financing system into compliance with federal court decisions and failed.
Votes highlighted in the 2016 session included: HB 138, which allowed 17-year olds to vote in primary elections and passed; HB 137, which tightened lobbyist expenditure reporting and passed; HB 105, which made campaign reports more accessible to the public and passed; HJR 1 which authorized an independent redistricting committee and failed; HJR 5 which established an independent ethics commission and failed, and SB 11 which increased disclosure of independent spending and failed.
The scorecard reflects the importance of committee action as well as floor votes.
Several of the bills tracked in 2016 never made it to the floor. HJR 5 establishing an independent ethics commission passed the House but was stopped in the Senate Rules Committee. HRJ 1 for an independent redistricting commission passed one House Committee but was never given a hearing in another. SB11, increasing transparency for dark money groups, passed the Senate for the fourth time but was not heard by House Committees.
In 2015, several bills passed all committees but were never heard on the floor of the final chamber needed for passage. HB 151 to allow 17-year olds to vote in primaries was not heard on the Senate floor and HB 278 to improve disclosure of independent expenditures was not heard on the House floor.
Common Cause New Mexico’s Legislative Summary and Scorecard is available on line at http://www.commoncause.org/states/new-mexico/research-and-reports/2015-2016-legislative.pdf