Archiving is finally coming to the webcasts of the New Mexico State Legislature. Well, archiving of House proceedings, anyway. A House rule change proposed by Rep. Jeff Steinborn, D-Las Cruces, passed unanimously on Tuesday night. The proposal called for archiving of the House proceedings beginning in the next legislative session and keep those archives for five years. “I think this is just such a big step for us to increase the transparency of this body,” Steinborn said.
A new survey of New Mexico business leaders shows most think there is a real problem with the influence of money in politics. And some business groups are getting serious about plans to clean up state government. Nearly 90 percent of business leaders think all political spending should be made public, according to a poll of 250 business leaders, commissioned by the Committee for Economic Development, a Washington D.C.-area think tank. It follows the release of a CED-sponsored report conducted in conjunction with the University of New Mexico, “Crony Capitalism, Corruption, and the Economy in the State of New Mexico.” The New Mexico Association of Commerce and Industry is one of many groups speaking out in support of proposals they say would give voters—and businesses—more confidence in their leaders.
[box type=”info” style=”rounded”]THE ASSOCIATION OF COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY (ACI) is New Mexico’s statewide chamber of commerce and business advocate, representing hundreds of employers and thousands of employees statewide.[/box]
Last Thursday, Senate Bill 537, the transparency bill which the New Mexico Association of Commerce and Industry helped to draft, passed the Senate on a unanimous 39-0 bipartisan vote. But with less than a week remaining in the 2015 legislative session, this broadly supported bill has yet to be heard in its first House committee. SB 537 is a transparency measure to enhance the state Sunshine Portal by requiring that additional information on state contracts be available publicly through the portal. ACI President and CEO Dr. Beverlee McClure said last week’s vote is a testimony to the broad appeal of the proposal, and urged the House to take action on the bill. “Not a single vote has been cast against SB 537 from either party,” McClure explained. “With limited funds and only days remaining in the 2015 session, this is a prime example of something positive that we can still get done. SB 537 will increase transparency and create opportunities for New Mexicans.” SB 537 has been assigned to two House Committees: the House Government, Elections & Indian Affairs Committee, and the House Judiciary Committee. The bill, which is sponsored by Republican Senator Sander Rue and Democratic Representative Stephanie Garcia Richard, represents a rare opportunity for agreement as this legislature draws to a close. In 2014, ACI member businesses expressed concerns that New Mexico companies were not being given a fair chance to compete for state contracts. Through a series of public inquiries in 2014, ACI discovered that it is extremely difficult or impossible to access information on factors used in awarding state contracts, or even the percentage of state dollars spent with New Mexico businesses versus out-of-state companies. Research has shown substantial economic benefits to in-state procurement, as up to 60% of money spent in-state is reinvested in the local economy, benefiting other local businesses and spurring local job creation.
[box type=”info” style=”rounded”]THE COMMITTEE FOR ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, business-led public policy organization. [/box]
A new poll of New Mexico business leaders released today shows serious concern about the lack of transparency in New Mexico’s government and campaign finance system. The poll shows overwhelming support for reform amid worries from the business community about the lopsided influence of political donors compared to every day voters. The poll was commissioned by the Committee for Economic Development of The Conference Board (CED), a nonpartisan, business-led public policy organization, and conducted by Research & Polling, Inc.
A sample of 307 New Mexico business leaders was interviewed by telephone. All interviews were conducted between February 2nd, 2015 and February 18th, 2015. The statewide sample of business leaders included the board members of 11 Chambers of Commerce throughout the state, the largest private sector employers in New Mexico, the largest employers within various business sectors, Albuquerque Economic Forum members, Albuquerque Economic Development (AED) members, and members of the Mesilla Valley Economic Development Association (MVEDA).