Bills Improving Transparency of Legislature Clear First Hurdle

Rep. Jeff Steinborn

LEGISLATIVE News:

Bills Would Require Webcasting of Interim Committees and Archiving of Session Webcasts

SANTA FE—Two pieces of legislation that would increase the accessibility and transparency of the New Mexico Legislature passed unanimously in the House Appropriations and Finance Committee last night. 

House Resolution 2 (HR2), sponsored by Rep. Jeff Steinborn, D-Doña Ana, would require that all webcasts of committee meetings and floor proceedings during the legislative session be archived. Currently, session webcasts can only be watched live which greatly limits the public access to the debate and the committee process.

The second rule change, House Concurrent Resolution (HCR 1) co-sponsored with Senate Pro Tem Mary Kay Papen, D-Doña Ana, would require the Legislative Council Service begin webcasting all interim committee hearings. Interim committees meet between the legislative sessions and members hear presentations on a variety of public policy issues, including important ongoing issues in state government. There was increased public interest in the interim legislative hearings last summer related to Gov. Susana Martinez’ shake up of the state’s mental health system. Webcasting of those hearings would have been a great benefit to the citizens of New Mexico.

“Transparency of our government and citizen participation is a crucial cornerstone of effective democracy,” Steinborn said. “The vote of support by the House Appropriations Committee of these two pieces of webcasting legislation is a great first step in the legislative process to enact this needed reform.”

In 2010, Steinborn sponsored the legislation regarding the current rule requiring webcasting of legislative session committee meetings. He said now it’s time for the Legislature to take the next step in increasing its transparency and access. HCR 1 and HR 2 now head to the House Judiciary Committee for consideration.

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