Editorial: Senate should stream Committees' Committee - Albuquerque Journal

Editorial: Senate should stream Committees’ Committee

State Sen. Mimi Stewart is an experienced lawmaker. The retired educator has been House Education Committee chair and Senate majority whip and is now president pro tem of the Senate. It’s unfortunate all that experience doesn’t have her championing good and open government.

In her current Senate leadership role, Stewart, D-Albuquerque, is chair of the Senate Committees’ Committee, which has the hefty task of determining the leadership and membership of Senate standing committees. In 30-day sessions, the Committees’ Committee also determines whether a bill falls into one of the legal categories allowing lawmakers to take it up. The group’s workload of late has been about 40 bills a day.

The House Rules and Order of Business Committee, which does similar work, streams its meetings online to make them more accessible. The N.M. Foundation for Open Government has called on the Senate Committees’ Committee to as well.

But Stewart’s response was “the public isn’t going to want to listen to this. It’s boring legal standards we’re talking about, and we’re not talking about them very much.”

Respectfully, it’s not her call to determine what the public wants and doesn’t want to hear. This is the people’s business, and the people should get to decide what they want to listen to. All NMFOG is asking is to turn on the camera and mic and stream the hearings.

Stewart says she has improved transparency by moving Committees’ Committee hearings from the Senate lounge to a regular committee room. OK, but the Committees’ Committee still doesn’t publish daily agendas or make it easy for New Mexicans outside Santa Fe to watch it in action. The ongoing pandemic dragged most of us into the live-stream generation; Stewart should join us there.

The Senate leader’s cavalier pooh-poohing of public interest in her committee’s work is unworthy of someone in her post. How our government works is important, and we shouldn’t have to remind her and her colleagues they work for us — the residents of New Mexico, who have every right to be an informed citizenry.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.

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