New Mexico considers changes for future legislative sessions

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SANTA FE, N.M. — Some proposed changes to how New Mexico lawmakers work have made it to the House floor. Other proposals are stuck in committee in either the House or the Senate, and some bills haven’t been heard at all. Here’s a breakdown of the latest.

A house joint resolution is calling for constitutional change on how long the Legislature meets. It would get rid of the 30-day session every other year and instead increase it to a 60-day session every year.

“The legislation that we have to consider is incredibly complex and our constituents deserve a Legislature that can put in the time to study in depth, do background research, to reach out to stakeholders and our constituents,” said Rep. Natalie Figueroa. “The time is so compressed in the 30-day session, we can’t do that legislation justice and serve our constituents well.”

That resolution has been sitting on the House floor for two weeks.

A separate resolution would create legislative salaries, which are non-existent right now in New Mexico. This would require a change to the state constitution and create a citizen’s commission to decide how much legislators should make for the work they do in the Roundhouse. The resolution has passed the House floor and is now waiting to be heard by the Senate Finance Committee.

“I listened in on the rules committee the other day and there are still a lot of questions to be asked about it – what’s a fair rate of pay and that’s what I’m looking at and why we look across states,” Sen. George Muñoz said. “People now run for office because they love the state of New Mexico and if you get a rate of pay that is high, you are going to get people who are going to run for a job.”

There are also two House bills that would change how the state deals with ethics complaints – from general misconduct to sexual harassment. Both of those bills are waiting to be heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Lastly, there is a new rule that got attention early on in the session that hasn’t gone anywhere. A proposed rule would prevent lawmakers from consuming alcohol before or during floor hearings or committees, but it has yet to be heard by any committee.