The gavel has sounded, the 60-day session is over, and we’re pleased to report a number of significant victories for ethics reform, green jobs and the environment.
On the ethics reform front, three high priority measures passed and await the Governor’s signature.
Campaign Contribution Limits: New Mexico was one of only five states with no restriction on the size of campaign donations. Now you can scratch us from that ignominious list. Thanks to Common Cause, Senator Dede Feldman, Senator Peter Wirth, Representative Jeff Steinborn and others for their tireless work on this issue. (link)
Open Conference Committees: In years past, six designated lawmakers would often meet behind closed doors, away from the prying eyes of the public and the news media, where they could then radically alter passed legislation. And year after year, the Senate would kill efforts to open up these conference committees to the public. But this year the Senate broke with tradition and passed this reform overwhelmingly. Hats off to the sponsors, Senator Dede Feldman and Representative Joseph Cervantes.
Legislative Webcasting: 2009 was the year of sunshine. Now audio webcasting of floor sessions of both houses is available to the public. Primitive video webcasts of Senate floor sessions started in the last week.
Defense of Nonprofits: A number of bills were introduced to restrict the public education efforts of nonprofit organizations around legislative issues. All of these assaults of the First Amendment were turned back. In an impressive show of unity, the nonprofit community rose up to meet the threat, including the ACLU, American Cancer Society, Amigos Bravos, Audubon Society, Common Cause, Environmental Law Center, New Energy Economy, Conservation Voters New Mexico, AFSCME and many others.
New Mexico Youth Organized, working with a host of allies, passed SB318. SB 318 creates a one million dollar job-training program for green jobs. In the final hour, the legislature also passed HB 622, creating a bonding framework for green jobs. Extra special thanks to the bill sponsors, Speaker Ben Lujan and Senator Eric Griego!
Conservation Voters New Mexico worked tirelessly to kill a $400 million Tax Increment Development District proposal for sprawl development west of Albuquerque. The California developer SunCal spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on industry lobbyists and advertising. Nice work, CVNM!
Thanks to all of you for following this blog, and for your commitment to social and economic justice!