Wednesday, February 9, 2011

HB 332 and HJR 21- Redistricting

HB 332---Tomorrow morning in House Voters and Elections, a bill introduced by chair Mary Helen Garcia will be heard. HB 332 would create a redistricting commission with 18 members, all sitting legislators apointed by the leadership of the two chambers. It provides for the legislators to meet during the interrim and create plans which would then be approved during a special legislative session.

This is exactly the approach that we at Voting Matters have been arguing against for a number of years. Essentially, it is an incumbent protection plan that allows individual legislators and the major parties to preserve the stauts quo- the legislators on the commission will even be appointed in proportion to the current partisan makeup of the two houses.

Cal Mary Helen Garcia's office at 986-4341 and ask her why she thinks this system is fair to voters of NM, and who on the commission will represent the interests of over 200,000 voters not affiliated with either major party?

HJR 21--- Representative Tom Anderson has introduced a joint memorial which would permanently establish a bipartisan commission made up of 8 members, 4 Republicans and 4 Democrats. The members would be appointed by legislative leaders but not necessarily be legislators themselves.

While this is an improvement, it still neglects the views of 20% of New Mexico voters.

We are still waiting for a bill that would create a truly independent commission.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Voter Action Act

Two bills have been introduced that alter the state's public campaign financing system.

SB32, introduced by Sen Dede Feldman, makes a few minor alterations requested by the former Secretary of State. Unfortunately, it includes a provision that extends the period that the Secretary's office has to certify candidates and distribute funds to candidates.

This creates an enormous obstacle for candidates, who by law would be forbidden from spending any money for a ten day period. This is especially onerous for minor party candidates, as the ten day period includes the fourth of July holiday period.

Because of this defect, we have to oppose SB 32.

On the other hand, SB 294, introduced by Sen Eric Griego, does two important things. First, it expands the Voter Action Act to include all executive and legislative offices. And second, it addresses a key element of the legislation that was ruled unconstitutional by the US Supreme Court last year.

Using terribly flawed reasoning, the Supremes determined that the matching fund provision of Arizona's public campaign financing system "chilled" the free spending rights of nonparticipating candidates, because their spending could benefit participating candidates who would receive matching funds.

The new legislation eliminates matching funds based on nonparticipating candidates' spending, and replaces them with matching funds based on the participating candidates ability to raise private funds in small amounts (not more than $100 per contributor).

While we prefer the current system, it is better to alter it than to risk having the whole system thrown out in court. We support SB 294, which unfortunately as been sentenced to three committees, Senate Rules, Judiciary, and Finance.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

HM 7- Corporate personhood

Also introduced by Representative Egolf is a memorial expressing disagreement with the US Supreme Court decision in Citizens United. The memorial, which does not have the force of law, asks Congress to begin the process of a constitutional amendment to clarify that corporations are not persons, and are not entitled to constitutional protections granted to human beings.

We strongly encourage unanimous passage of this memorial, and hope that our Congressional delegation will make this a priority issue.

More informtion about the national move to overturn the doctrine often referred to as corporate personhood can be found at

HB 154- corporate campaign contributions

Representative Bran Egolf has introduced a bill that would forbid corporations registered in New Mexico from contributing to state, county or local elections. This would include both candidate and issue elections.

The bill has been assigned to House Consumer and Public Affairs and House Voters and Elections Committees. It should get a hearing next week.

We support ending unrestrained corporate influence in our elections, and urge the legislature to pass this bill.