A bill that would require lobbyists to disclose more information and require the information remain available on the website of the Secretary of State for a longer period of time passed the House unanimously on Saturday.
The legislation passed unanimously through two committees and on the floor, though in a very different form than how it was originally introduced. The bill received a committee substitute in the House Regulatory and Public Affairs Committee and it was that version that ended up passing the House.
The bill would require more information on which issues lobbyists are advocating on behalf of or against, require a larger fee to register as a lobbyist to help pay for the increased disclosure and would require the Secretary of State to keep the reports public for ten years instead of the current two years.
Rep. Jeff Steinborn, D-Las Cruces, sponsored the legislation and said it would bring greater transparency for the public. He said that 43 states already ask for more specificity on what issues lobbyists are lobbying on behalf of or against.
Steinborn cited a poll conducted for Common Cause New Mexico that showed widespread, bipartisan support for increased transparency for lobbyists.
Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard, D-Los Alamos, introduced an amendment to bring it back to the original version of the legislation, adding back a requirements for lobbyists to file an estimated lobbying expense report and for reports on the recipients of certain types of payments.
“We are not asking for itemized expenses in this amendment, it’s just [the] aggregate amount spent,” Garcia Richard said in response to a question from another representative.
“Putting in these two provisions, making sure that the public knows exactly what is going on up here, is a positive and good step forward for the step of New Mexico,” Rep. Bill McCamley, D-Mesilla Park, said in support of the amendment.
Common Cause New Mexico, a group which advocates for greater transparency in spending related to politics in New Mexico, opposed the amendment according to Rep. James Smith, R-Albuquerque.
“We took these amendments out in RPAC at the request of Common Cause,” Smith said. Smith has frequently carried legislation supported by Common Cause New Mexico.
The amendment ultimately failed on a 33-30 vote.
The bill then passed quickly, without any more debate.
In HRPAC, the legislation originally stalled in committee. After the changes, the legislation passed unanimously.
The legislation now heads to the Senate.