February 26, 2015

Lobbying cool down bill heads to House floor

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The Roundhouse Rotunda. Photo by Matthew Reichbach

The Roundhouse Rotunda. Photo by Matthew Reichbach

A bill that would stop former legislators, Public Regulation Commission members and cabinet secretaries from becoming paid lobbyists for two years after they leave the position is headed to the House floor.

HB 241 passed the House Judiciary Committee after a short debate.

The legislation passed the House last year but failed to pass the Senate. A companion bill is being sponsored by Bill O’Niell, D-Albuquerque, in the Senate. The Senate version has not received a committee hearing yet.

Rep. Jim Dines, R-Albuquerque, said that it was an issue that came up when he was campaigning last year.

He said the legislation would help fight the perception of corruption in lobbyists who were recently legislators. Dines said that perception becomes reality for many constituents and that this would help fight that perception.

Most of the committee agreed with him, but Rep. Cathrynn Brown, R-Carlsbad, voted against the legislation.

“I think lobbyists really do get a bum rap,” Brown said. She said that the lobbyists she has met “are good, hard-working people.”

She also said she believed that two years was too long.

Brown cited comments by former House Minority Leader Don Bratton, a Republican from Hobbs, who also said that it was too strict when it passed the House last year.

Rep. Javier Martinez, D-Albuquerque, is a cosponsor of the bill and told Brown that it would not stop legislators from becoming lobbyists if they so chose.

“All we’re saying is, ‘let’s give a two-year cooling off period to help that public perception,'” Martinez said. He said that “perception is everything in this type of work.”

Gov. Susana Martinez has said that she would sign the legislation and called for the passage of such legislation in her State of the State address. Martinez has already, by executive order, said those who serve in her administration cannot lobby immediately after leaving the position.

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