Lawmakers will push once again for lobbyist reform

Lobbyists will be a topic of discussion during this year’s legislative session but won’t be physically present to make their case when lawmakers once again consider measures requiring greater disclosure about their advocacy efforts. They include requiring lobbyists or their employers to list the bills they lobbied on and the position they took, as well as the reporting of all money spent to influence state policy, including all compensation paid to a lobbyist. A report issued by New Mexico Ethics Watch last year states lobbyists exert considerable influence at the Capitol. “Perennially powerful lobbyists still know how to expertly play the inside game, catering to legislators, using their access to legislators, and leveraging the timing of meetings and last-minute amendments to their advantage,” the report states. According to the report, a few legislators try to strengthen lobbying laws every year — “only to have their legislation stalled in committees, amended to be toothless, or amended to make disclosure and other requirements so onerous that legislators can’t possibly vote for the proposals.”

State Sen. Jeff Steinborn, D-Las Cruces, said he hopes a pair of bills he plans to reintroduce this year to make lobbying more transparent will get a friendlier reception from a new set of freshman lawmakers.

Senate committee spikes lobbying disclosure bill

There are about 700 registered lobbyists bustling around the Capitol this year. What are they working on? They don’t have to say. A Senate committee shot down legislation on Wednesday that would have required lobbyists to report which bills they are working on. House Bill 131 also would have barred lobbyists from making any expenditures on legislators while they are in session.

Martinez vetoes bill to close lobbyist loophole

Gov. Susana Martinez, who has touted herself as a champion of transparency, on Thursday vetoed legislation that would have required lobbyists to return to disclosing more information publicly about money they spend on public officials. The Legislature passed a law that weakened those rules last year but sought to correct what some lawmakers called an inadvertent mistake during this year’s 60-day session, which ended last month. This post originally appeared at New Mexico In Depth and is reprinted with permission. Martinez’s veto means lobbyists won’t need to report expenses on lawmakers and other public officials under $100, as they did prior to the current law taking effect. Martinez explained her reasoning in a one-page veto message.