Updated: January 15, 2021 06:40 PM
Created: January 15, 2021 03:24 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.- When the 60-day legislative session starts on Tuesday at the Roundhouse in Santa Fe, there won’t be any lobbyists in the building.
Paul Gessing, president of the Rio Grande Foundation, who considers himself a citizen lobbyist, says that rule could hurt the legislative process.
“Lobbyists can mean anybody,” he said. “It can mean anyone if the public who has an interest in an issue in Santa Fe or in any capitol whether it’s the state or the nation.”
Just like the public, lobbyists won’t be allowed in the Roundhouse to give in-person input on proposed legislation. Instead, they will have to do it virtually.
Gessing says that’s a big challenge.
“This is the time when if you’ve talked to your legislators before if you’ve met with them, if you have their cell phone number, or at least personal email address, this is the time to use those tools to engage with them to say, ‘Here’s a concern I have. Here’s an issue I want to bring to your attention,’” he said.
While they sometimes get a bad rap since they do have an agenda, Gessing says lobbyists give important input on bills curing the committee process.
“Lobbyists and folks like myself included do a lot of educating of legislators on issues that they may not necessarily understand as fully as a lobbyists with that expertise really does,” said Gessing. “So my concern, my biggest worry, is that you’re going to have legislation that may be a little on the half-baked side, not necessarily fully formed because they haven’t had as much information, interaction with the public and lobbyists.”
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