New Mexico lawmakers are delivering on a promise to improve one of the state’s last-in-the-country rankings — the speed of broadband internet. Several bills are moving through the Legislature, and two have cleared the Senate and House of Representatives and are heading to Gov. Susana Martinez for her consideration. Each would make it easier to expand broadband internet to underserved rural areas where the sparse population makes it difficult for companies to recoup their costs. House Bill 60 would allow private companies installing fiber optics to share a trench unearthed by the state or a local government. The change reclassifies broadband as an economic development project and exempts it from a constitutional provision that prohibits taxpayer support to private companies.
On a night where protests outside of a Donald Trump rally drew national attention, plenty also disrupted the Republican presidential candidate’s speech inside the Albuquerque Convention Center. It’s not as if the Trump campaign wasn’t expecting it. Before the likely GOP presidential nominee walked onto the stage, a voice on loudspeaker told the crowd how to treat potential protesters. “If a protester starts demonstrating, please do not touch or harm the protester,” the announcer said, prompting some scattered boos from the crowd. Trump previously said he’d like to punch one of the protestors at a rally in the face.
New Mexico’s campaign finance system received a ‘B’ grade from one campaign finance watchdog. The National Institute on Money in State Politics released its scorecard on the disclosure requirements for contributions to state campaigns and gave grades to each state. This report looks at campaign finance requirements for candidates, candidates committees and political parties but not political action committees that are increasingly becoming a huge part of elections. The study also looked at committees that support or oppose statewide ballot questions, but New Mexico does not such a practice. New Mexico was one of 29 states to receive a “B” grade or higher.
[box type=”info” style=”rounded”]REP. JIM SMITH is the chair of the interim Science, Technology, and Telecom Committee[/box]
What does the decision by the Federal Communications Commission to impose utility style regulation on the Internet mean to the future of New Mexico’s promising high-tech economy? Well, imagine this. You’re riding the new chairlift on Kachina Peak in Taos, steadily making your way to the summit at 12,450 feet as you take in the spectacular scenery below. Suddenly there’s a power failure. The lift tops climbing and you’re left dangling, wondering if you’re ever going to reach the top.
[box type=”info” style=”rounded”]COMMON CAUSE NM is the state affiliate of Common Cause, the citizens lobbying organization that works for open, honest, and accountable government. Common Cause NM is currently working on campaigns to limit the influence of money in politics and make voting free, fair, and accessible to all eligible voters.[/box]
Governor Susana Martinez signed the Online Voter Registration Bill, SB 643 sponsored by Senator Lisa Torraco (R-Bernalillo). This has been a long time priority for Common Cause New Mexico as well as our numerous partner organizations we work with in our Election Administration Coalition. We so appreciate the hard work so many folks put into making this a reality, and a special thanks to Governor Martinez for signing it! Online Voter Registration modernizes our Election System for all New Mexicans:The traditional voter registration update methods are increasingly out-of-step with 21st century advancements.
The House voted to approve a voter ID bill after three hours of debate, the latest in a long line of Republican priorities that have passed this session. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Cathrynn Brown, R-Carlsbad, would require voters to present a form of identification when voting in person or by mail. The legislation passed on a 37-29 vote. While presenting the bill Brown said her aim was to prevent voter fraud no matter how prevalent it is. She argued that if laws were written based on how often crimes are committed, many current laws would be non-existent.
A House committee failed to pass a bill that would require more information from lobbyists at the state legislature. With one Republican member missing, The House Regulation and Public Affairs Committee voted 3-3 on a motion to pass HB 155, meaning the bill stays in the committee. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Jeff Steinborn, D-Las Cruces, proposes to add more information to reports from lobbyists and their respective employers. The bill would also add requirements for how long the Secretary of State’s Office is required to post information about lobbyists. Viki Harrison, the executive director for political advocacy group Common Cause New Mexico was Steinborn’s expert witness.
[box type=”info” style=”rounded”]VIKI HARRISON is the Executive Director of Common Cause NM and the former Executive Director of NM Repeal, where she led the successful campaign to abolish the death penalty in NM. A stalwart of NM politics and advocacy and a graduate of UNM, Viki was also part of the team that secured NM’s historic cockfighting ban.[/box]
There’s an old classic by Ray Charles titled “You Don’t Know Me,” that features these lyrics:
No you don’t know the one
Who dreams of you at night;
And longs to kiss your lips
And longs to hold you tight
Oh I’m just a friend. That’s all I’ve ever been. Cause you don’t know me. And boy is that an apt description of all the money flowing into our elections here in New Mexico!