Is a part-time NM Legislature the problem? - Albuquerque Journal

Is a part-time NM Legislature the problem?

How equitable and effective is New Mexico’s part-time Legislature?

It is essential that residents, officials and lawmakers focus on legislation that will make a positive difference in the lives of all New Mexicans and outcomes in New Mexico. An independent legislative improvement task force can be that positive difference.

A part-time legislature is no longer benefiting New Mexico; it’s time for reform. New Mexico is the last state in the U.S. without a (salaried) legislature (and) we are also the state – among those with many – with the most last-place rankings.

In the 2021 legislative session … lawmakers made four different attempts to pass bills to pay themselves. Before this happens, a responsible legislative body would create an independent legislative improvement task force similar to the one in 2020, House Memorial 32.

A responsible legislative body would have UNM and NMSU political science departments and other state universities conduct political science research into our citizen Legislature to determine if the current structure has been the root cause of all the problems for New Mexico in recent years. No member of the Legislature or Governor’s Office should have any say in the selection of the task force membership.

How effective is our part-time “citizen” Legislature?

For example, the 30-day/60-day style in a two-year period means it takes New Mexico almost 2.5 years to equal one year of legislative work that is done in Colorado.

It clearly appears not having a professional legislature is holding our state back. And the current structure of the legislature has evolved into a legislature of elite retirees, excluding the people the citizen legislature was intended to serve.

According to the Legislative Council Service, the most recent formal study of the legislative process was in August 2006.

The following must be considered by any task force created for this:

• Length of legislative session compared with states of similar size;

• Compensation of legislative members compared with states of similar size;

• Strategies to reduce conflicts in the legislative process;

• Staff for legislators during the session and in the interim;

• Developing a primer for citizen participation in the legislative process;

• Limiting introduction of guests and performances on the floor;

• Improving alignment of policy initiatives proposed by interim committees with the development of the general appropriation act;

• Transparent planning and prioritizing capital outlay funding; and

• Structure and efficacy of statutory and interim committees.

A report of recommendations (should be) made available to legislators and the general public by Sept. 1.

New Mexico chooses to be a very poor state, despite how cash rich the state government really is, but there’s no reason for that.

It’s the sixth-richest state in the union when it comes to natural resources, with massive potential in solar energy. So, why are we failing as a state?

It’s such a huge, beautiful state with a rich history and culture. New Mexico can proudly claim one of the most diverse landscapes in the world – just like the people that make up our great state.

Currently, our “citizen” Legislature … does not allow all citizens an equal or equitable chance to serve.

Home » Opinion » Guest Columns » Is a part-time NM Legislature the problem?


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