Delay in Issuing ‘Message’ Will Effectively Kill Reform Efforts
After more than a week of work in the 2016 New Mexico Legislative Session, Gov. Susana Martinez has yet to take action to support even a debate about one of the more than a dozen government ethics-related bills that legislators have introduced.
“What is Gov. Martinez waiting for?” asked Joe Kabourek, Democratic Party of New Mexico Executive Director. “The clock is ticking on the legislative session. New Mexicans want – and deserve – a public debate about policies that will help restore their trust in state government. After a year of scandals in the Martinez Administration, the governor’s being investigated by a federal grand jury, and her own public abuse of her power after a holiday party in Santa Fe, New Mexicans need meaningful steps taken now to start to set things right.”
In a 30-day budget session, like this one, only non-budget issues that receive a “message” from the governor can be considered by the Legislature. Since the session opened last week, Martinez has issued 83 such messages, but not a single one regarding ethics legislation.
While Martinez has not made ethics one of her legislative priorities, she did say in her recent State of the State address that she would allow some campaign finance reform bills to be considered. To date, she has taken no steps to allow that debate to happen or to support any of the campaign finance bills that have been introduced.
“It’s not enough to talk about reform when the cameras are rolling,” said Kabourek. “New Mexicans need a leader who will take a stand, own the problems she’s created, and work with the Legislature to find real solutions.”
Given the length of the process necessary for any bill to pass the Legislature and become law, a delay in getting started on a bill in a 30-day session often ensures that the bill doesn’t go anywhere.
“Every day that Susana Martinez waits to get behind ethics reform is another day closer to the end of this short session,” Kabourek said. “Even if the governor ultimately allows these bills to be considered, she’s effectively killing any chance of reform by delaying the bills’ consideration.”