We reported earlier in the legislative session about Rep. Jeff Steinborn’s bill to require more transparency from lobbyists in New Mexico.
After being tabled in it’s first committee, Rep. Steinborn was forced to revise the bill somewhat. Though it’s not as strong as it was originally, the bill still represents a common-sense step in providing more transparency around the influence big-money lobbyists are having on our legislative process.
A recent poll commissioned by Common Cause NM found that 89% of voters think it is a good idea to require lobbyists to make public the bills and issues they have been hired to lobby on. Further, the poll showed that 64% of voters say New Mexico’s elected officials are more responsive to lobbyists than voters; only 19% say they are more responsive to voters.
Here’s what the House Democrats had to say after Rep. Steinborn’s bill passed a full Senate vote last night:
Lobbyist Disclosure Bill Passes Senate
Legislation focuses on lobbyist disclosures and reporting of expenditures
SANTA FE, NM –House Bill 155, “Lobbyist Employer Registration” sponsored by Rep. Steinborn (D-Las Cruces) passed the Senate floor today. It now returns to the House for concurrence before going to the Governor.
HB 155 seeks to bring more transparency to lobbying by creating new reporting requirements for lobbyists and tasking the Secretary of State’s office with preserving records of lobbyist disclosures like political contributions and expenditures.
The bill originally required lobbyists to disclose the issue for which they are working for or against and required the lobbyist’s employers to disclose how much they pay for lobbying, but those provisions were stripped away during the committee process.
The bill still sets requirements for the Secretary of State to post information in a more timely and easily accessible formats as well as timelines for posting on the website.
Currently lobbyists have to report their expenditures only twice a year and within 2 days of spending $500 or more during the legislative session. The bill would require all contributions in excess of $100 be reported.
“This bill takes a great step forward in placing lobbyist filing reports on the internet for all to see,” said Rep. Jeff Steinborn. “Citizens deserve to know what companies and interest groups are involved in shaping policy. Providing online transparency of lobbying activity is a critical tool for New Mexico.”