February 9, 2015

Lobbyist disclosure bill stalls in committee

Print

A House committee failed to pass a bill that would require more information from lobbyists at the state legislature.

With one Republican member missing, The House Regulation and Public Affairs Committee voted 3-3 on a motion to pass HB 155, meaning the bill stays in the committee.

Money flying

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Jeff Steinborn, D-Las Cruces, proposes to add more information to reports from lobbyists and their respective employers. The bill would also add requirements for how long the Secretary of State’s Office is required to post information about lobbyists.

Viki Harrison, the executive director for political advocacy group Common Cause New Mexico was Steinborn’s expert witness.

Harrison told the committee that there is a perception in Santa Fe that lobbyists and legislators alike are bad people. She said she has been a lobbyist for many years and knows it is just a perception, but that perception matters.

“There’s a saying [in Santa Fe] that perception is reality,” Harrison said.

Kari Fresquez, the interim elections director with the Secretary of State’s office told the committee her office was not explicitly against the bill but that it might bring up other problems. For example, Fresquez said, posting all of the proposed data would cost more money and that more appropriations would most likely be necessary to implement the legislation.

Committee Chair Yvette Harrell, R-Alamogordo, told the bill’s sponsor she thought the bill was an overreach on the part of state government. Steinborn countered that the amount of information that would be available to the public would not be overly specific.

Rep. Jim Smith, R-Sandia Park, echoed Herrell’s point that there seems to be a lot of information required.

The vote came down to all Republican’s present voting against the bill and all Democrats voting in favor of it.

With Vice Chair Bob Wooley, R-Roswell, not present, the vote was tied and therefore will stay in committee unless the members decide to vote on it again.

Harrell said she would be willing to revisit the legislation with Steinborn to get more clarification.

Correction:

This story originally said the bill was tabled. It received a tie-vote on a “do-pass” motion and so failed to pass the committee. This story has been updated to reflect this. We regret the error.

Comments

comments