March 9, 2015

Lobbyist ‘cool-down’ bill clears House floor

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A bill that would prohibit lawmakers from becoming lobbyists for two years after leaving their respective position passed the House on a bipartisan vote of 57 to 10. Eight Republican and two Democratic members voted against the bill.

Roundhouse Rotunda

HB 241, sponsored by Reps. Jim Dines, R-Albuquerque, and Javier Martinez, D-Albuquerque, would require lawmakers leaving their positions to wait two years before accepting compensation for lobbying services.

Of the ten legislators who voted against the bill, only one asked the sponsor questions.

Rep. Candy Spence Ezell, R-Roswell, asked Dines if lawmakers who left office this year would be restricted from lobbying. Referring to the effective date of the bill, Dines told Ezzell that only those who are in office on July 1, 2015 will be affected.

The legislation would also include Public Regulation Commission members and cabinet secretaries in the two-year cool-off period.

Gov. Susana Martinez bars state agencies from hiring lobbyists and has backed the lobbying cool-down bill.

The legislation only applies to paid lobbying. Legislators, PRC members and cabinet secretaries would still be able to lobby for free on issues.

Most of the other questions directed towards Dines were lighthearted and part of a tradition of hazing new lawmakers when they pass their first bill.

When the bill was heard in the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Cathrynn Brown, R-Carlsbad, was the only member to vote against the legislation. She also voted against it on the House floor.

The bill will now go to the Senate for committee assignments. A companion bill, sponsored by Sen. Bill O’Neill, D-Albuquerque, is scheduled for the Senate Rules Committee on Tuesday. Last year, a similar bill passed the House but never made it through the Senate.

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