RUNM 2021 New Mexico State Legislature Regular Session Final Report

The campaigns to legalize recreational marijuana and to repeal the state’s anti-abortion law dominated the headlines, but more fundamental proposed changes to New Mexico – lots of them, in fact – were voted into law or buried in committee during the regular 2021 session of the New Mexico Legislature.  That made for a busy session for RepresentUs New Mexico (RUNM), which took a keen interest in 22 pieces of legislation that would affect the health of our democracy.  Collectively they addressed basic democratic issues and goals such as voting registration and the voting process, redrawing the maps for political district representation, lobbying and campaign finance reporting, transparency and ethics rules administration and enforcement.

Throughout the session, RUNM advised you (its members, volunteers and subscribers) about the proposed legislation and together we supported or opposed them, as appropriate, through emails, letters, phone calls, legislative committee testimony, letters to the editor and the like.  Although important legislation improving the redistricting process, preserving existing programs and adding new ones making it easier to vote, providing for public financing for candidates for district judges, improving and clarifying administration and enforcement of campaign finance, lobbying and ethics laws passed and were signed into laws, others pertaining to aspects of these important matters and that would have created open primaries, ranked-choice voting and allowed major and minor candidates to be listed on each other’s ballots, failed to see the light of day.

Below is our report describing this legislation and detailing what happened to it.  The pieces of 2021 proposed legislation that RUNM followed are organized in this report according to legislative body and numerically.  A link to a key to committee abbreviations used in this report can be found at the bottom.

House

HB74 Felon Voting Rights Changes Sponsored by Rep. Gail Chasey. As originally introduced, this bill would have changed existing law that prevents persons convicted of a felony from being able to vote until completion of their time served plus any parole period to allow them to vote after their release from incarceration.  The bill received a Do Pass in the HSEIC and in the HJC on 02/11/21.  It was amended on the House Floor to require sex offenders to register as such before their voting rights would be restored. The Secretary of State expressed concern as her office does not receive data regarding sex offenders.  The bill passed the House Floor as amended on 02/11/21.  It was then referred to the SRC but was not scheduled for hearing.

RUNM Position: Supported

Final Result: Died in SRC on 03/20/2021 (the final day of the session)

HB79 Primary Participation Election Changes Sponsored by Reps. Miguel P. Garcia and Daymon Ely and Sens. Mark Moores and Katy M. Duhigg. This bill would have amended the Election Act to allow voters not registered with a major political party to vote in primary elections by allowing them to choose a major political party ballot to cast for the election.  It passed the HSEIC on 01/27/21 and was referred to the HJC.  At the HJC hearing on 02/05/21, the vote resulted in a 6-6 tie.

RUNM Position: Supported

Final Result: Failed to advance out of the HJC on 02/05/21

HB153 Campaign Reporting Changes. Sponsored by Reps. Matthew McQueen and Bill Tallman. The bill reduced the reporting limit for state-wide elections from $3,000 to $1,000, making the reporting threshold consistent for all elections. In addition, it modified the reporting schedule so contributions would be reported seven days after a general election rather than on January 7 as currently required. The House passed the bill on 03/02/21. It was referred to the SRC but was never set for hearing.

RUNM position: Supported

Final Result: Died in the SRC on 03/20/21

HB211 Redistricting Committee.  Sponsored by Reps. Rebecca Dow, Kelly K. Fajardo, Joy Garrett, Natalie Figueroa and Georgene Louis. This bill, and its mirror bill in the Senate, SB199, was the culmination of a concerted effort over a year of work by a coalition of nonprofit organizations of which RUNM was a member to reform the redistricting process in New Mexico.  Out of this effort, an independent redistricting task force was created to study and propose the criteria to be used in the process.  The task force also proposed the creation of a bipartisan independent commission to create sets of maps for the legislature.  It received a Do Pass in the HSEIC on 02/09/21 and was referred to the HJC and HFAC where it passed on 03/13/21 and 03/16/21, respectively.  See descriptions of SB15 and 304 below to see what redistricting measure did pass in the Legislature.

RUNM Position: Supported

Final Result: Passed the House on 03/05/21 but was not referred to the Senate.

HB231 Native American Polling Places. Sponsored by Reps. Georgene Louis, D. Wonda Johnson, Derrick J. Lente, Anthony Allison and Benny Shendo, Jr.  If the president, governor, or governing body of an Indian nation, tribe, or pueblo has declared an emergency or invoked emergency powers, a polling place on the Indian nation, tribe, or pueblo land shall not be eliminated or consolidated, nor shall the days and times of voting be changed, without the written agreement of the Indian nation, tribe, or pueblo where the polling place is located.  The bill passed the House floor on 03/02/21 and the Senate floor on 03/19/21.

RUNM Position: Supported

Final Result: Signed by the Governor on 04/06/21

HB244 Ethics Committee/SOS duties. Sponsored by Reps. Greg Nibert and Daymon Ely.  The bill sought to amend the Campaign Reporting Act, Voter Action Act, Lobbyist Regulation Act, and the Financial Disclosure Act to clarify and distinguish the powers and duties of the State Ethics Commission (EC), the Secretary of State (SOS) and the Attorney General in administering and enforcing these laws in order to streamline processes and avoid duplication of efforts and unfair, disparate results.  HB244 passed the House floor on 03/03/21 and the Senate floor on 03/13/21.

RUNM Position: Supported

Final Result: Signed by the Governor on 04/06/21

Senate

SB14 Automatic Voter Registration. Sponsored by Sen. Linda M. Lopez.  This bill provided for anyone of voter age who applied for a driver’s license or state-issued I.D. to be automatically registered to vote.

RUNM Position: Supported

Final Result: Died in SRC without a hearing on 03/20/21

 

SB15 Redistricting Committee.  Sponsored by Sen. Daniel A. Ivey-Soto.  This bill proposed a different scheme for redistricting than that set forth in both HB211 and SB199 favored by RUNM.  We were told that it was introduced early in the process primarily as a placeholder to advance legislation on redistricting in the event that no other redistricting legislation was introduced.

RUNM Position:  Initially opposed because it conflicted with SB199 but supported the SRC substitute bill and later amendments combining it with SB199 and 304.

Final Result:  See the report for SB304 below.

SB48 Election Changes. Sponsored by Sen. Pat Woods.  The initial bill was essentially a voter suppression bill disguised as a bill that would increase security of ballots and the voting process.  It would have eliminated same-day voting, limited voting sites and added unnecessary additional identification requirements to automatic voter registration.  It was assigned to the SRC where on 02/25/21 it received a No Pass as is but a Do Pass for the committee substitute bill favored by the SOS and EC that enacted real voter security measures that did not impair the rights or abilities of voters to vote or make it more difficult to vote. It was referred to the SJC where it received the same recommendation on 03/11/21.

RUNM Position: Initially opposed but supported committee substitute bill also supported by the SOS and the EC.

Final Result: Died in the SJC without a hearing on 03/20/21.

SB100 Major and Minor Party Ballot Nominations.  Sponsored by Sen. Gerald Ortiz y Pino.  This bill would have amended the Election Code to permit a certified major political party candidate to file a declaration of candidacy to be a minor political party’s candidate for the same office on the general election ballot.  An electoral system like that authorized by the bill, which would have allowed two or more parties to nominate the same candidate, is commonly known as “fusion voting.”  Proponents of fusion voting systems contend the systems increase the voice of minor parties without sacrificing their ability to impact elections.

RUNM Position: Supported

Final Result: Died in the SRC on 02/08/2021

SB160 Judicial Candidates in Voter Action Act. Sponsored by Sens. Katy M. Duhigg and Peter Wirth. This bill provided for district court judge candidates to qualify for public campaign financing by receiving contributions of exactly $5 from a certain number of voters, the number being determined based on the size of the candidate’s district. It received Do Passes in the SRC on 02/10/21 and the SFC on 03/08/21. It passed the Senate on 03/09/21 and was referred to the HSEIC where it received a Do Pass on 03/14/21.   It was passed on the House floor on 03/19/21.

RUNM Position: Supported

Final Result: Signed it into law by the Governor on 04/05/21

SB199 Redistricting Committee.  Sponsored by Sens. Gerald Ortiz y Pino and Mark Moores.  See the report on HB211 above for a general description of this bill.  This bill was combined with SB15 in a substitute by the SRC and passed on 03/01/21 and passed again in the SJC and on the Senate floor with amendments on 03/09/21. It was then sent to the HJC where it received a Do Pass with amendments on 03/13/21.  See the report on SB304 below to understand its further evolution.

RUNM: Supported

Final Result: See the report on SB304

SB235 Absent Voter Act.  Sponsored by Sen. Harold Pope, Jr. Voters who are under the Intimate Partner Violence Survivor Suffrage Act would be automatically sent an absentee ballot without being required to request it.  Passed the SRC and was referred to the SJC.

RUNM Position: Supported

Final Result: Died in the SJC without a hearing on 03/20/21

SB298 Legislative Election Changes.  Sponsored by Sen. Peter Wirth. This bill sought to include candidates for state senator and state representative in the Voter Action Act, prescribe campaign contribution limits from sources other than qualified electors, establish distribution amounts for candidates and remove public regulation commissioner from the list of elected offices.  It was referred to the SRC on 02/01/21

RUNM Position: Supported

Final Result: Died in the SRC without a hearing on 03/20/21

SB304 Voting District Geographic Data.  Sponsored by Sen. Brenda G. McKenna.  It was combined with SB 15 Redistricting Committee, sponsored by Sen. Mark Moores and Rep. Brian Egolf. SB304 is a step in the right direction with a long way to go before New Mexico has a truly nonpartisan process to draw new district lines for various elective offices.  What started out as a bill directing the secretary of state to collect and report geographic information system data for each of the state’s voting precincts was passed in the Senate on March 5.  It was passed by the House after a key floor amendment was approved that added a watered-down version of the controversial effort to establish a citizen redistricting committee.  The committee would be charged with the biennial task of recommending new district maps, which the legislature will be free to adopt or reject in favor of maps designed in-house. SB15 was an alternative proposal for the redistricting process proposed in SB199.  It was sent to the SRC and was voted by the committee Do Not Pass but with a Do Pass recommendation on 03/20/21 on the committee substitute bill, which combined provisions with SB199.  It was amended further and passed in the SJC and amended again on the Senate Floor and passed on 03/20/21.  It was sent to the HJC and passed with amendments and sent to the House floor.

RUNM Position: Supported original bill and the committee substitute as amended.

Final Result: Passed the House Floor and the Senate concurred with the House amendments on 03/20/21and was signed into law by the Governor on 04/06/21

SB311 Lobbying & Ad Campaign Changes.  Sponsored by Sen. Jeff Steinborn. Lobbyists who incur expenditures or make political contributions for or against candidates would be required to file a financial report.

RUNM Position: Supported

Final Result: Died in the SRC without a hearing on 03/20/21

SB314 Post-Session Lobbying Reports. Sponsored by Sen. Jeff Steinborn.  This bill proposed adding a new section to the Lobbyist Regulation Act requiring all lobbyists to file reports with the SOS disclosing lobbying activity on legislation, including development of legislation prior to the legislative session, and whether the lobbyist supported, opposed, or took another position on the legislation.

RUNM Position: Supported

Final Result: Died in the SRC without a hearing on 03/20/21

SB359 Solicitation of Some Campaign Contributions. Sponsored by Sen. Jacob Candelaria. This bill required stricter campaign donations reporting to the Secretary of State. The Senate Rules Committee gave its substitute bill a Do Pass, but it never made it to the Senate or House floors for a vote.

RUNM Position: Supported

Final Result: Died in the SRC without a hearing on 03/20/21

SB387 Segregated Bank Account. Sponsored by Sen. Peter Wirth. This bill proposed amending the Campaign Reporting Act to require campaign contributions received by a candidate within a prohibited period to be reported regularly.  It also would have required expenditures of certain $ amounts to be reported and deposited in a segregated bank account except under certain specific circumstances. The bill received a Do Pass from the SJC on 03/08/21 and was passed on the Senate floor on 03/10/21. It was then sent to the HJC and given a Do Pass recommendation on 03/16/21.

RUNM Position: Supported

Final Result:  Died in the HJC without a hearing on 03/20/21

SB389 Redistricting Commission Funding. Sponsored by Sen. Mark Moores.

The bill would have appropriated $300,000 from the general fund to the State Redistricting Commission in FY22 and FY23, contingent on passage of HB 211 or SB199. Eventually a redistricting bill was approved by combining elements of those bills with SB304.

RUNM position: Supported

Final Result: Died without further action

SJR4 Elected Officials Salary Review.  Sponsored by Sens. Daniel A. Ivey-Soto, Katy M. Duhigg and Roberto J. Gonzales. This joint resolution would have given the authority and responsibility of setting the salaries of state elected officials other than judges to the State Ethics Commission and required the commission to review the salaries on a biennial basis.  Theoretically, the Ethics Commission could set and assign salaries for members of the Legislature as well.  The joint resolution received a Do Pass in the SRC and was referred to the SJC.

RUNM Position: Supported

Final Result: Died in the SJC without a hearing on 03/20/21

SJR22 Ranked Choice Voting. Sponsored by Sen. Bill Tallman. This resolution would allow voters to rank their choices for an elected position, except in municipal elections. RCV gives 2nd or 3rd choice candidates a better chance of winning by adding up all votes each candidate receives.

RUNM Position: Supported

Final Result: Died in the SRC without a hearing on 03/20/21

The RUNM Legislative Action Team—Bruce Berlin, Herb Faling, John House, Michael Kelley, Paul Kinzelman and George Richmond

April 28, 2021

Key to certain abbreviations used in this report: https://www.nmlegis.gov/Legislation/Action_Abbreviations