Many New Mexicans are upset that a proposal to create a state ethics commission has met its death once again in the Senate Rules Committee.
That committee already had a reputation for killing ethics and transparency legislation. Then on Wednesday, Rep. Jim Dines, R-Albuquerque, at a hearing in front of the committee, withdrew his proposal to create an agency that would set ethical standards for the executive and legislative branches and help police violations.
Dines did that because Democrats on the Senate Rules Committee — who have the majority — appeared poised to approve a substitute bill that would strip the commission of transparency and make other changes he said would make it “a toothless tiger.”
While 42 other states have ethics commissions — and in New Mexico, the judiciary has such a body keeping an eye on it — the proposal to create a commission to oversee the legislative and executive branches has died in New Mexico repeatedly over the last decade, often in the Senate Rules Committee.
“Sigh,” Tito Meyer of Las Cruces wrote on Facebook.
“Being shocked is not possible. Sigh is right,” replied Steve Reynolds of Las Cruces.
“Grrrrrrrrr,” wrote Katherine Guidry of Santa Fe.
Wally Haussamen of Las Cruces (this reporter’s dad), called the situation “disgusting.”
“The foxes in the hen house must have much to hide,” he wrote.
Some were blaming Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez, who many perceive as orchestrating the dynamics that lead to the death of so many ethics and transparency proposals in the Senate. Sanchez is a member of the Senate Rules Committee.
“The Senate is the place all commonsense and any legislation meant to achieve progress in NM goes to die,” wrote Mike Johnson of Santa Fe. “Thanks to King Michael.”
Some praised Dines for his efforts. David McCollum of Las Cruces called him “one of the best legislators in New Mexico.”
“It appears that no one else wants to be held accountable,” McCollum wrote. “No wonder we have a difficult time finding skilled people to run for public office.”
Of course, Dines isn’t the only legislator who supports creation of an ethics commission. The legislation was co-sponsored this year by Rep. Jeff Steinborn, D-Las Cruces. It passed the House on a bipartisan, 50-10 vote.
And then ended up in the Senate Rules Committee.
No one defended the actions of the Senate Rules Committee during the discussions NMPolitics.net facilitated on Facebook about the death of the ethics commission proposal.
“We New Mexicans lose out once again,” wrote David Chavez of Las Cruces.