Republican and Democratic legislators voiced their thoughts on the 2023 legislative session shortly after it ended on Saturday. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham held a press conference with Democratic leadership from both the House and Senate. Lujan Grisham opened the conference with a note on bipartisanship and the sometimes prickly interactions between the legislative and executive branches. “This is not easy. Solutions take each of our areas of expertise and our priorities and passions and put it together,” Lujan Grisham said.
With the session winding down with days to go, members of both parties in the New Mexico House of Representatives spoke in solidarity with House Minority Leader Rep. T. Ryan Lane, R-Aztec, during a Wednesday floor session following a March 8 tweet referencing Lane’s introduction of his son on the floor. Evan Lane spent his 17th birthday at the Roundhouse being honored by his father Rep. Lane on March 8. “Now he’s a very special, special young man and I know I’m biased because I’m his father, but I want to share a bit about the transformation that he’s done in the last couple years,” Lane said.
Evan started working out and getting into wrestling two years ago, the elder Lane said. “Growing up as a kid, (Evan was a) very sweet, young man, great personality, very funny, not very athletic, not very motivated, if I can be frank for a minute,” Lane said. “About two years ago, he decided he was going to change things in his life… he’s found a tremendous amount of self discipline, to the point where he started getting up a few times a week in the morning around 5 a.m. Wake himself up, go workout, got into wrestling and it’s been very inspirational for his mother and I to see that kind of self-motivation and self-transformation that’s taking place within him and I know it will serve him well for the rest of his life.”
ProgressNow New Mexico* Energy Policy Director Lucas Herndon was watching the floor session that morning and made a Twitter post referring to Lane’s introduction of his son on the House floor on March 8 as “toxic masculinity.”
Lane spoke to the NM Political Report about the tweet.
The House voted down a bill sought to modernize the Campaign Reporting Act. SB 42 sought to simplify campaign reporting compliance for some elected officials and to provide more sunshine on campaign finances. The bill failed on 33-36 vote. Legislators debate portions of the bill that would change the way loans to candidates from family members would be reported. There were questions about how the difference between a loan from a family member to help fix a home issue such as plumbing or roofing was different from a loan toward the candidates campaigning.
There was also discussion about the restricted times during legislative sessions when a legislator may receive a donation through the mail but not cash it until after the legislative session concluded.
The state House of Representatives approved a bill that updates the state Election Code on a 44-25 vote. SB 180 requests an update the state’s Election Code including specifying when the Inspection of Public Records Act, or IPRA, can be used for election information, allowing electronic nominating petition signatures, creating an election security program, requiring training for election challengers and watchers, revising requirements for the impoundment of ballots, audits, voting machine rechecks and recounts, revising election-related crimes and authorizing taxpayer information to be revealed to the secretary of state for purposes of maintaining voter registration records. More: Bill updating Election Code heads to House floor
Debate on the House floor included questions from opponents about how safe drop boxes are and whether the closed circuit video from the drop boxes are subject to inspection under the state’s open records law, as well as questions about how electronic signatures for candidate nominating petitions can be used as well as paper petitions with personal signatures. Majority Floor Leader Gail Chasey said while presenting the bill that no ballot boxes are connected to the internet which has been a worry by those who falsely claim the 2020 presidential election results were not accurate.
More than 60 lawsuits were filed contesting election counting processes. These lawsuits either failed, were dropped or are ongoing.
The House Judiciary Committee passed a bill that would revise the state constitution via a commission. Rep. Eliseo Lee Alcon, D-Milan, was the sole vote against the bill, which passed 8-1. “This bill addresses the constitutional revision commission as one of the three ways by which we can amend our constitution,” bill co-sponsor Sen. Joseph Cervantes, D-Las Cruces said. “Most of us are very familiar with the amendment process by which we put the issues on the ballot and the voters vote on constitutional limits. Another way of the three is a constitutional convention.
The House Judiciary Committee unanimously passed an update to the Campaign Finance Act. SB 42 seeks to simplify campaign reporting compliance for some elected officials and to provide more transparency on campaign finances. Amended to include HB 103, bill presenter and HB 103 co-sponsor Rep. Matthew McQueen, D-Galisteo, said SB 42 was previously a disclosure bill. The addition of HB 103 adds a modernization effort to align campaign finance reporting with the modern election process. “Senate Bill 42 requires out of state groups making independent expenditures of $5,000 or more to disclose the source of those funds.
The House of Representatives approved amendments made by the Senate to a bill expanding the state Election Code on a 42-25 vote Monday. This is the final step for the bill before it goes to the governor’s desk. HB 4 would expand automatic voter registration, restore convicted felons’ right to vote upon release from prison, create a voluntary permanent absentee voter list, and enact the Native American Voting Rights Act to the state Election Code. One of the Senate amendments to the bill is a definition of incarceration. “‘Correctional facility’ means a jail, prison or other detention facility that is used for the confinement of an adult, whether operated by the state or a political subdivision of the state or a private contractor on behalf of the state or a political subdivision of the state,” the bill states.
The House floor approved a bill on a 62-1 vote to make it a fourth degree felony to intimidate election workers such as poll workers and county clerks and other election employees. The bill would expand the state’s election code to include the penalties. There was no debate on the bill. SB 43 passed the Senate unanimously. More: Bill prohibiting intimidation of election officials moves to House floor
“SB 43 amends the election code to make intimidation of an election official a felony.
Legislation that aims to update the state’s Election Code passed the House Judiciary Committee on a 6-4 vote on Saturday. SB 180 requests an update the state’s Election Code including specifying when the Inspection of Public Records Act, or IPRA, can be used for election information, allowing electronic nominating petition signatures, creating an election security program, requiring training for election challengers and watchers, revising requirements for the impoundment of ballots, audits, voting machine rechecks and recounts, revising election-related crimes and authorizing taxpayer information to be revealed to the secretary of state for purposes of maintaining voter registration records. More: Election code update passes Senate
The bill was discussed but not voted on during a Friday afternoon HJC meeting with discussion continuing during the Saturday, March 11 meeting. “These changes are absolutely necessary for the conduct of elections,” Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver said. The bill is similar to the Voting Rights Act, HB 4, which is a policy bill while SB 180 is a technical bill, Toulouse Oliver said.
A bill that makes intimidating election officials a felony passed in the House Judiciary Committee on a 10-0 vote. SB 43 would expand the state Election Code’s scope by making it a fourth-degree felony to intimidate election workers such as poll workers and county clerks and other election employees. “Under current law, if someone is a voter or a watcher or a challenger, and someone seeks to intimidate them, tries to induce fear using threatened use of force, violence, infliction of harm or loss or any form of economic retaliation for the purpose of impeding their free elective franchise or the impartial administration of the electric code that is a fourth degree felony,” bill sponsor Sen. Katy Duhigg, D-Albuquerque, said. “What this bill does is it extends those same protections to the people who are actually running our elections: the Secretary of State’s office, their employees and agents, or county clerks, or municipal clerks and their employees and agents.”
More: Bill making intimidation of election officials a felony moves to Senate floor
The bill’s origin comes from a wave of threats of violence against election workers, including threats to Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver.
The bill passed the Senate unanimously on Feb. 16.