Review process may prompt shift toward a full-time, professional legislature

Santa Fe, N.M. – A full-time, paid, modern legislature could be nearing reality for New Mexico, following today’s House passage of a bill creating a commission to study and provide recommendations on improving the state’s legislative process. 

Sponsored by Rep. Angelica Rubio (D-Las Cruces) and Rep. Melanie Stansbury (D-Albuquerque), House Bill 301 creates a bipartisan Legislative Process Review Commission to review New Mexico’s current legislative policies and procedures and to develop proposals for improving and modernizing the 112-member legislature. Areas examined would include legislative transparency and public access, legislator compensation and staff support, session rules and procedures, and needed improvements to the capital outlay process. 

“As legislators, we work hard to develop and implement the meaningful and successful policies that best serve the needs of our state and constituents. HB 301 will help us be more efficient, effective, and transparent in that process,” said Rep. Rubio. 

Rep. Rubio continued: “Depending on the commission’s findings, this may mean shifting to a full-time, professional legislature, which would allow representatives to give year-round, dedicated focus to their work in the Roundhouse. It would also open the possibility of serving to many more hard-working New Mexicans across the state, who are rooted in their communities and directly impacted by the policies we pass.” 

“To provide the greatest benefit to the communities we represent, we must ensure that we have effective and modern systems that support the important work of the legislature,” said Rep. Stansbury. “HB 301 creates a bipartisan commission to study our current processes and those of other states around the country, and find solutions that implement overall best practices while also taking into account the unique needs of New Mexico.” 

House Bill 301 is based on the work of the Thornburg Foundation, which provided a report (attached to this release) in December 2019 on how to modernize the New Mexico legislature. The Legislative Process Review Commission created by this bill would report their findings by October 31, 2022. 

After passing the House with a 41-26 vote, HB 301 will now move on to the Senate. 

Members of the public can track legislation on the New Mexico Legislature website, access committee meetings and House floor sessions via the Webcasts tab, or participate by Zoom to provide public comment on committee hearings. During the 2021 Legislative Session, the House of Representatives is focused on passing critical legislation while protecting the health and safety of the public, the staff, and the legislators.

 - NMDP

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