Free lunches earn business access to New Mexico lawmakers

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico lawmakers routinely accept free lunches from lobbyists.

This week, internet and testing companies are sponsoring education committee meeting lunches. The committee will consider writing legislation that pays for Internet and school testing. Final decisions over which companies to choose are decided by school districts and state education officials, not legislators.

But one former legislator who refused all gifts from lobbyists says the practice creates the appearance of wrongdoing.

Current lawmakers on the Legislative Education Study Committee say they are not influenced by the free lunches, which can earn companies time to present products in private.

A school testing service is presenting to the committee this week after buying them lunch on Monday.