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Local Leagues in New Mexico

 

2017 Legislative Session

March 2017: This year's legislative session is now over. Our final 2017 Legislative Tracking Sheet lists bills we were tracking during the 2017 session.

Statement on Immigration and Deportation

January 31, 2017 statement from the LWVUS:

The League of Women Voters is opposed to deportation of non-criminal undocumented immigrants. The League of Women Voters supports cities, towns, counties, and states that make a decision not to cooperate with federal deportation and enforcement actions that include non-criminal undocumented immigrants.

Annual Citizen Advocacy Workshop Video Online

The video for the League's Annual Workshop: "*Effective Citizen Advocacy at the Legislature", held Saturday, December 10, 2017, is online. Speakers include Senator Peter Wirth (D-Santa Fe, District 25), Representative Jimmie Hall (R-Bernalillo, District 28), and Minda McGonagle of McGonagle Public Relations Consulting Duo, LLC.

League Day 2017, and 2017 Legislative Priorities

January 2016: Come to League Day at the Legislature 2017 February 8 & 9.

Our 2017 Legislative Tracking Sheet is up, listing our priorities during the 2017 session. It will be regularly updated during the session.

LWVNM wins 2016 Common Cause NM "Best in Government"

November, 2016: LWVNM wins 2016 Common Cause NM "Best in Government" recognition for our efforts to improve democracy. Common Cause NM is our closest partner in advocating for ethics and campaign finance reform, reducing the influence of money in politics, fair redistricting practices, and improvements in elections. We're honored and look forward to even closer collaboration in the 2017 session!

League State Board approves Charter School Regulation Position

November 12, 2016: The new Charter School Regulation position (DOC, 165K) is the result of an intensive two-year study and consensus meetings around the state. This position will be used for advocacy during the 2017 Legislative Session and will be a component of the existing LWVNM Education position when ratified at Convention, May 20-21, in Santa Fe.

League Endorses the Bail Bond Constitutional Amendment

October 7, 2016: New Mexicans have the opportunity to make badly needed changes in the state\u2019s antiquated bail bond system — a system dating back to Pennsylvania state laws from the 1700s. The League supports the amendment on November's ballot, whichwould give judges the power to keep dangerous, violent offenders in jail and the discretion to release poor non-violent offenders.

More info: My View: League endorses the bail bond reform bill (Santa Fe New Mexican).

Note: The League erroneously included the New Mexico Criminal Defense Lawyers' Association as supporters of the amendment. We regret the error.

A Victory for Voters

NM Supreme Court unanimously decides in favor of LWVNM's argument that Constitutional Amendments expanding voting rights passed.

On September 14, the NM Supreme Court heard oral arguments on the League of Women Voters vs. the Advisory Committee to the NM Compilation Commission case. The League argued that a simple majority — not a super-majority —was all that was needed for the electorate to approve Constitutional Amendments in 2008 and in 2014 allowing school elections to be held at the same time as other non-partisan elections. The Court also agreed that electorate approved a Constitutional Amendment in 2010 calling for the removal of the archaic and offensive language denying "idiots" and "insane persons" the right to vote.

The Supreme Court ordered the NM Compilation Commission to make the changes to Article VII, Section 1, of the NM Constitution immediately.

More details:

NM Supreme Court hears LWVNM vs. NM Compilation Commission

September 12, 2016: At 9 a.m. on September 14 the NM Supreme Court will be hearing oral arguments on the League of Women Voters vs. the Advisory Committee to the NM Compilation Commission case, known as "the school elections case." The Writ of Mandamus that the League filed in 2015 argues that the electorate actually did approve Constitutional Amendments in 2008 and in 2014 allowing school elections to be held at the same time as other non-partisan elections.

If the Supreme Court is persuaded by the League's argument, the New Mexico Constitution will not only allow school elections to be combined with other non-partisan elections, it will remove the archaic and offensive language denying "idiots" and "insane persons" the right to vote.

More details:

Online 2016 Voter Guide

September 10, 2016: The online version of our 2016 New Mexico Voter Guide is here! Stay tuned for PDF and print versions.

Statewide Candidate Forums Canceled

August 10, 2016: LWVNM expresses its disappointment in having to cancel SOS candidate forums in Albuquerque, Las Cruces, and Santa Fe, but both candidates are being invited to participate in local League candidate forums that are scheduled for other races. Please check out the links to the local Leagues to see when those forums are scheduled and who is participating.
Listen to the discussion on Dateline New Mexico.

Why We Oppose Voter-ID Laws

August 4, 2016: Recent Supreme and lower court decisions have demonstrated that photo ID laws have disenfranchised thousands of eligible voters. The GAO and the Brennan Center both found voting was suppressed in states with photo ID. Here's more information on Why We Oppose Voter ID Laws.

Editorial: Do Your Job

April 3, 2016: an editorial in the ABQ Journal by Richard Mason / Vice President, LWVNM. “It is time for the New Mexico executive and legislative branches to step up and do their jobs. Doing their jobs includes insuring that there is adequate revenue to fund essential government programs.”

Letter to the editor: Circumventing open government

In the February 10, 2016, Santa Fe New Mexican:

On the agenda for Monday (Feb. 8) for the House Regulatory and Public Affairs Committee was House Bill 336 — Public Peace, Health, Safety and Welfare. The league [of Women Voters in New Mexico] and other good government groups know that title shows that HB 336 is a placeholder or dummy bill with no content. During every session dummy bills are filed prior to the filing deadline so bills can be substituted later.

It’s time to stop this ridiculous practice that circumvents the legislative process and is a clear violation of the intent, if not actual content, of the Open Meetings Act. The league realizes it might be necessary to file a bill after the filing deadline, but that should be an open procedure approved by a majority vote of the relevant body. The public should be informed of the content of the proposed legislation in advance of any hearing.

Dr. Meredith R. Machen
President, League of Women Voters of New Mexico

Podcast: HJR5 Independent Ethics Commission

Feb. 11 - NM Gov't Transparency Advocate Says Ethics Commission Amendment Could Stall In Senate.

League President, Meredith Machen, says that people are clamoring for ethics reform. The Senate should pass a joint resolution to concur with HJR5 Independent Ethics Commission (which passed House 50-10 on Feb. 9). Time is short, but this bipartisan legislation should be expedited to let the public decide (through a Constitutional amendment on the general election ballot) whether NM will join 42 other states with ethics commissions.

Listen to a KSFR podcast about it:: Podcast: NM Gov't Transparency Advocate Says Ethics Commission Amendment Could Stall In Senate

League Council in Los Alamos, Saturday, May 21

Save the date. Agenda details will be posted soon. For more information, contact leaders@lwvnm.org.

Radio Interview on Bills We're Following

KSFR Radio, 101.1 FM Santa Fe interviews President Meredith Machen on some of the bills LWVNM’s is following. The League has prioritized legislation calling for both an independent ethics commission and an independent redistricting commission, tightening campaign finance regulations, funding education fairly and adequately, and more. It opposes restricting women’s rights, voting rights, and corporate tax breaks. For LWVNM’s 2016 Priorities, see our Action page.

New Mexican Editorial: State should rethink charters

An editorial in the December 29, 2015 Santa Fe New Mexican, Our view: State should rethink charters, supports LWVNM in suggesting a moratorium on New Mexico charter schools. The New Mexican asks, "Are we spending precious — and often insufficient — tax dollars in the best way possible?"

Interview on Charter School Issues

In advance of New Mexico Public Education Department Secretary Hannah Skandera's presentation of her agency's budget request for the coming year, LWVNM President Meredith Machen was interviewed about her concerns about the effect of charter school funding on traditional public schools and privatization of education. PED has been approving an increasing number of charter schools over the past few years. According to a NM Legislative Finance Committee, almost half of the new dollars spent on public education from FY 2008-15 went to charter schools which serve only 6.6% of NM's K-12 students.

Listen here to the KSFR's report with comments from the League and from the CFO of Santa Fe Public Schools.

New Mexican Profiles LWVNM President Meredith Machen

The Santa Fe New Mexican profiled our president, Meredith Machen, as part of their "10 Who Made a Difference" series: League of Women Voters president works to expand opportunities for all.

Call for a State Ethics Commission

The League calls upon Governor Martinez and NM House and Senate leaders to establish a State Ethics Commission. NM is one of 8 states without one. An Ethics Commission would oversee and enforce ethics rules, campaign finance, and lobbying laws. Commissioners should be independent, impartial, and free from conflicts of interest and vetted through a nomination process. The Commission needs to be as removed as possible from partisan politics. It would receive allegations and complaints and conduct investigations according to established detailed standards. If the allegations were proven beyond a reasonable doubt, the commission would determine disciplinary action.

Zélie Pollon, News Director of KSFR.org has a recorded interview with Meredith Machen, President of New Mexico’s League. Listen here: Sep. 1 - The New Mexico League of Women Voters says it's time for ethics in Politics.

Campaign Finance Definitions

New Mexico needs to adopt clear definitions related to campaign finance. The League calls upon legislators to follow the lead of the City of Santa Fe, which adopted a set of the definitions July 2015: Santa Fe, NM Campaign Code 9-2 Definitions (PDF, 56K) or (DOC. 84K).
(Full text on Santa Fe's website: Ordinance 2015-23, full text.)

Governmental Transparency and Budget Accountability

Governmental transparency and budget accountability are required by statute and essential to taxpayers and creditors (“Auditor troubled over state’s unbalanced checkbook,” Aug. 21). The administration needs to rectify the problems with SHARE — Statewide Human Resources Accounting Reporting — and reveal the specifics regarding the missing $100 million to $400 million. The Department of Finance and Administration’s release of a very late and incomplete financial report puts New Mexico’s credit status at risk.

Government must provide accurate information. How can we expect legislators to make sound decisions on appropriations when the administration and agencies fail to submit audited expenditures on time? How can the Legislative Finance Committee develop a reasonable budget without accurate tracking of expenditures and balances? SHARE did have problems when implemented in 2008, but it’s 2015 and still no information.

Public scrutiny of open records builds trust and increases accountability. Meeting responsibilities is essential to a functional democracy. The administration should require all agencies to stick to their approved budgets and submit their audited reports for 2014 before the December deadline.

Meredith Machen, President
League of Women Voters of New Mexico
August 28, 2015

Payday Loans: N.M. Payday Lenders Get Roundhouse Payoff

Ever wonder why payday lenders are allowed to charge up to 1,000 percent on payday and title loans? Read this article from the Albuquerque Free Press, 8/12/15: N.M. Payday Lenders Get Roundhouse Payoff.

Money in Politics Study

The LWVUS Campaign Finance Position will be updated through a study and consensus process. Please see the calendar at your closest local League's website (link at left) to find out the schedule for the information and consensus meetings. While the public is invited to both events, only members can weigh in on the consensus questions.

Major topics being considered:

The LWVUS MIP Committee has ready-to-use resources and strategies to help understand the current system of campaign finance regulation.

Judiciary Deserves More Respect

More than 50 years ago, Congress declared May 1 “Law Day” to remind Americans of the unique role of the rule of law in guaranteeing our democracy’s ideals of equality and justice. President George Washington proclaimed, “The due administration of justice is the firmest pillar of good government.” We count on our courts to operate efficiently and effectively day in and day out.

The failures of the 2015 legislative session suggest it’s time for New Mexicans to consider new ways to ensure that our state court system has the funds needed to serve the public. New Mexico’s funding procedures subject our judiciary, an independent and co-equal branch of government, to politics.

Recent news reports have highlighted the financial squeeze facing New Mexico’s 48 magistrate courts because of the governor’s veto of $750,000 for operating costs through this June. Most of the shortage would have been absorbed if the governor in 2014 hadn’t also vetoed the continuance of a $4 court fee also approved by the Legislature.

This session, after the courts demonstrated they had been frugal with taxpayer money but could not address the funding deficiency, lawmakers approved a supplemental appropriation. However, Gov. Susana Martinez disagreed, which is her prerogative with New Mexico’s current system. But the veto means lease payments on court buildings and state insurance premiums must be delayed in the final weeks of the budget year to leave enough money for the core functions of courts in handling cases. The State Board of Finance will consider the court’s request on May 19 for a $750,000 emergency grant. It should approve these funds.

No one questions the authority of the legislative branch to make the laws, the executive branch to carry out those laws and the judicial branch to interpret the laws to safeguard our constitutional rights. Fundamentally, however, does it make sense that a co-equal branch of government would have to petition for approval for basic operational funds to the legislative branch and then face veto by the executive branch?

A truly independent judiciary shouldn’t face that possibility. It’s time our policymakers open a debate on how we can adequately fund the courts without politics jeopardizing the judiciary’s constitutional obligation to provide fair and timely justice. It’s time for New Mexico to consider procedures other states use to determine the state judiciary’s budget.

In West Virginia, the courts submit a proposed budget to the Legislature, and the state’s constitution prohibits it from being reduced by lawmakers or by a gubernatorial veto. Shouldn’t New Mexico have a system whereby 3 percent of the budget is made available for judicial operations, with priorities determined internally through a very rigorous unified process? (Court funding for fiscal year 2016 calls for modest increases over this year, and the judiciary represents about 2.6 percent of the overall state budget.)

As Supreme Court Chief Justice Barbara Vigil said in her legislative address, “When the judiciary is given the resources necessary to function efficiently, all of New Mexico will benefit.” New Mexicans should assign a high priority to funding our courts sufficiently and appropriately because of the pivotal roles they play in addressing economic and social issues, ensuring fairness and uniformity in the administration of justice, safeguarding the welfare of the public and protecting the liberties we cherish.

Meredith Machen, President
League of Women Voters of New Mexico
May 2, 2015

Campaign and Public Finance Regulation Needed in NM

Almost two-thirds of Santa Fe’s voters approved public financing for the mayoral race in 2008, but the recent election exposed flaws with independent expenditures. We can fix the system, as other municipalities have done in the wake of Citizens United, by allowing small contributions to certified candidates. Senate Bill 58 forbids coordination between independent PACs and local candidates.

Now that it passed the Senate with bipartisan support, we urge the House to approve it and send it to the governor for signature. The bill guarantees that stringent ethical procedures will be used when candidates for covered offices are eligible for taxpayer money. Just think how productive our Legislature would be if we had public financing for legislative races as well. Many qualified individuals do not run for our volunteer Legislature because they refuse to be beholden to political groups and special interests and/or to approach anonymous donors.

Meredith Machen, President
League of Women Voters of New Mexico
March 2, 2015

http://www.santafenewmexican.com/opinion/