The Senate Rules Committee on Wednesday voted 9-1 to advance a proposed constitutional amendment that would establish a state ethics commission.
The measure, House Joint Resolution 8, now moves to the full Senate. House members overwhelmingly approved the proposal last week.
Sponsored by Rep. Jim Dines, R-Albuquerque, the resolution calls for a seven-member commission that would investigate possible ethical violations by state legislators, officers and executive branch officials. The commission would have subpoena power for investigations.
The resolution is supported by the Secretary of State’s Office, Common Cause New Mexico, the League of Women Voters, the Foundation for Open Government and business groups such as the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce and the New Mexico Business Coalition.
Stuart Bluestone, a former state chief deputy attorney general, testified in favor of the bill before the Senate Rules Committee. “It’s very important to build trust in the government,” he said.
Only Senate Republican leader Stuart Ingle, R-Portales, voted against the proposal. He said the Legislature does a good job of investigating its members. Once there’s a commission in place, he said, it will be used to smear public officials.
“The charge will be on the front page and the retraction will be on page 17,” Ingle said. “We’re going to have a harder time getting people to run for public office.”
If given final approval by Legislature, the proposed constitutional amendment would go to voters in next year’s general election.
This article comes from The Santa Fe New Mexican. NMPolitics.net is paying for the rights to publish articles about the 2017 legislative session from the newspaper. Help us cover the cost by making a donation to NMPolitics.net. Contact Steve Terrell at (505) 986-3037 or [email protected]. Read his political blog at santafenewmexican.com/