Santa Fe, NM – This afternoon, the House Local Government, Elections, Land Grants and Cultural Affairs Committee unanimously passed House Joint Resolution 8, a proposal sponsored by Rep. Jim Dines (R-Bernalillo) to amend the state constitution and establish a state ethics commission. The resolution is cosponsored by Sen. Jeff Steinborn (D-Doña Ana), Rep. Nathan Small (D-Doña Ana) and Rep. Bill McCamley (D-Doña Ana).
HJR 8 would empower the commission to investigate and adjudicate ethics complaints against state officials in the legislative and executive branches of government as well as lobbyists and government contractors. The commission would also be able to issue advisory opinions, promulgate rules and issue subpoenas. If passed, the proposed amendment would be placed on the 2018 general election ballot for voter approval.
"Establishing an ethics commission within the state constitution would demonstrate our commitment to good governance," said Dines. "New Mexico is one of only eight states that do not have an ethics commission. Having a commission would provide additional transparency and reassure citizens that the appropriate safeguards are in place. It would also serve as a resource to advise government agencies on questions regarding ethical standards and conduct."
The resolution is similar to a proposal Dines offered last year. That resolution passed the House on a bipartisan 50 to 10 vote, but Dines pulled it from consideration after the Senate Rules Committee changed some key provisions.
HJR 8 will be heard by the House Judiciary Committee next.