February 18, 2023

Anti-donation clause constitutional amendment approved in Senate Rules Committee

The state Senate Rules Committee passed a joint resolution that would allow voters to decide whether to amend the state constitution to change the anti-donation clause.

The state’s anti-donation clause prevents governmental agencies from city councils and school districts to the state legislature from giving funding to individuals or private entities.

SJR 9 seeks to amend the clause to allow for exceptions such as disaster relief, supporting affordable housing and helping with economic development by providing land, buildings or other infrastructure.

The Senate Rules Committee approved the legislation Friday on a 4-2 vote. Sen. Mimi Stewart, D-Albuquerque, and Senate Rules Committee Chairwoman Katy Duhigg, D-Albuquerque, were the two votes against.

Duhigg explained her vote was more about the contents of the title, which is what voters will see on the ballot should the proposal pass both the House and Senate.

Legislation sponsor Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino, D-Albuquerque, said that he would speak to the Legislative Council about cleaning up the language in the bill’s title so that it is more comprehensible to the average voter.

If SJR 9 is approved, a constitutional amendment will be on the ballot in the next election to update the anti-donation clause.

One bill that the Senate Rules Committee heard Friday morning would address constitutional amendments.

If passed, SB 308 would set up a constitutional revision commission that would propose constitutional amendments to the legislature.

The bill creates a 21-member commission, with 15 voting members appointed by the governor and five nonvoting members from each congressional district. 

The nonvoting members would include two members from the House of Representatives, two members from the Senate, the chief justice of the Supreme Court and the attorney general, the bill states.

“Being the legislature, it’s our sole responsibility to propose (constitutional) amendments that the governor has really no say in what we propose,”  Sen. Cliff Pirtle, R-Roswell, said. “It is that of the 21-member commission, 15 are appointed by the governor. It seems strange to me that that’s how we would do that.”

The bill passed the Senate Rules Committee on a 7-2 vote with Pirtle and Sen. Linda Lopez, D-Albuquerque, voting against it.

SB 308 goes to the Senate Judiciary Committee next.