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House panel approves bill that puts lobbying limits on ex-lawmakers

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Posted: Tuesday, February 4, 2014 9:00 pm

The Roundhouse “revolving door” could be slowed down this year if the Legislature passes a bill that would prohibit legislators from becoming lobbyists for two years after leaving office. The measure cleared its first committee Tuesday.

The House Business and Industry Committee voted 6-5 to give a do-pass recommendation to House Bill 82, sponsored by Rep. Emily Kane, D-Albuquerque. The bill also would apply to public regulation commissioners and Cabinet secretaries. Employers would be prohibited from paying such officials to lobby until the two-year moratorium was over. Under the bill, violations would be considered misdemeanors, with a maximum sentence of one year in jail and $1,000 in fines.

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Welcome to the discussion.

2 comments:

  • Jeff Vigil posted at 11:55 am on Wed, Feb 5, 2014.

    Racer434 Posts: 9

    Don't they already have jobs? I don't think a single one of the is doing this out of the goodness of their heart. All of their expenses are paid, plus they get a pension and not to mention all the junkets they can handle. SO they aren't volunteering. This is just a stepping stone to a 6 figure job with a major entity.

     
  • Lannie Loeks posted at 8:15 am on Wed, Feb 5, 2014.

    lloeks Posts: 2

    This is an excellent idea. As for limiting job options for ex legislators? Silly comment at best. I'm sure that big money corporations can find other ways to employ ex legislators expertise. After all, aren't the Koch Brother's hiring professors and 'educators' all over the country? And as for 'less experience'? What would stop current legislators from researching and studying up on their own questions? How about contacting their electorate? Isn't that what they are there for? Personally, I would support a much longer moratorium.

     

Key issues facing lawmakers

ECONOMICS

Backdrop: New Mexico gained only 1,700 jobs during the past year ending in November. That's a growth rate of 0.2 percent and the lowest in the region. New Mexcio's unemployment rate was 6.4 percent in November compared with 6.7 percent a year earlier.

Proposals: Gov. Susana Martinez proposed expanding programs that can help bring nurses, dentists and other medical providers to rural areas. She also wants to provide $7.5 million for an endowment fund to attract top porfessors and researchers at colleges and universities. The governor recommends broadening tax incentivies to encourage startup companies as well as research and development. Democrats are pushing to increase the stat's minimum wage, which has been $7.50 an hour since 2009. Some lawmakers want automatic cost-of-living increases in the wage rate.

BUDGET

Backdrop: The current state budget is $5.9 billion, and revenues are expected to reach nearly $6.2 billion in the fiscal year starting in July. That provides about $239 million in "new money" for lawmakers and the governor for budget increases and to offset tax cuts. The state has cash reserves of more than $500 million, but that could shrink because of accounting discrepancies stretching back more than six years.

Proposals: Martinez has recommended a 3 percent budget increase compared with about 4 percent proposed by the Legislative Finance Committee. Martinez proposes targeted increases for hard-to-fill jobs such as state police. But the legislative panel advocates across-the-board raises for all state agency workers and educators, with higher amounts for those in certain jobs, including judges, state police and social workers.

INFRASTRUCTURE

Backdrop: About $600 million in bond financing is available for capital improvement projects. Some of that goes for specific purposes, including public schools and projects on tribal lands. However, much of the financing will be divvied up for new projects. 

Proposals: Martinez proposes earmarking about $112 million in bond proceeds for water projects across the state. The governor also recommends creatinga  new fund that can provide emergency assistance to communities with drinking water problems. The Legislative Finance Committee has recommended $10 million in bond financing for highway maintenance and $6 million for a road to the state's spaceport.

EDUCATION

Backdrop: Public schools, colleges and universities get nearly $3 out of every $5 in the operating budget. The high school graduation rate was 70 percent in the last school year, and nearly half of graduates enrolling in state colleges in 2011 and 2012 required remedial courses.

Proposals: Martinez will renew a proposal to require schools to hold back third-graders who can't read proficiently. Some Democrats and a coalition of social advocacy groups want to earmark part of the yearly payout from a state permanent fund to provide more money for early-childhood education. Lawmakers also will consider ways to shore up a lottery-financed college scholarship program. Some proposals would change the program to make the aid need-based and provide a flat dollar amount for scholarships. 

The Associated Press

Session dates - 2014

• December 16, 2013 - January 17 Legislation may be prefiled

• January 21 Opening day (noon)

• February 5 Deadline for introduction

• February 20 Session ends (noon)

• March 12 Legislation not acted upon by governor is pocket vetoed

• May 21 Effective date of legislation not a general appropriation bill or a bill carrying an emergency clause or other specified date

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