SANTA FE — House Bill 5 advanced through the House Government, Elections and Indian Affairs Committee this morning.
This bill updates the Governmental Conduct Act to make the exchange of sexual acts for official favors an ethics violation, and increases the maximum penalty for an ethics violation from $5,000 to $10,000.
HB 5 aims to prevent government officials or legislators from coercing individuals into sexual acts in a quid pro quo arrangement.
“This is an overdue update to the Governmental Code of Conduct. Everyone should feel safe interacting with public officials,” said lead sponsor Rep. Kathleen Cates, (D-Rio Rancho). “By making clear we will not tolerate sexual coercion and other abuses of power from our elected leaders and public officials, we are making our government more welcoming and accessible for all New Mexicans.”
Other sponsors of HB5 include representatives:
- Eleanor Chávez (D-Albuquerque);
- Joanne Ferrary (D-Las Cruces);
- Natalie Figueroa (D-Albuquerque);
- Yanira Gurrola (D-Albuquerque);
- Pamelya Herndon (D-Albuquerque);
- Susan Herrera (D-Embudo);
- Tara Jaramillo (D-Socorro);
- D. Wonda Johnson (D-Church Rock);
- Raymundo Lara (D-Chamberino);
- Charlotte Little (D-Albuquerque);
- Patricia Lundstrom (D-Gallup);
- Marian Matthews (D-Albuquerque);
- Andrea Romero (D-Santa Fe);
- Debra Sariñana (D-Albuquerque);
- Elizabeth “Liz” Thomson (D-Albuquerque);
- Majority Whip Reena Szczepanski (D-Santa Fe);
Along with making sexual quid pro quo an ethics violation and increasing the maximum penalty for violations, HB 5 includes identical provisions to Senate Bill 364, which has already passed both the Senate and House. Both of these bills include clarification that legislators can use their legislative letterheads to advocate on behalf of constituents with state agencies.
HB 5 now heads to the House Judiciary Committee.
The Roundhouse is open to the public for the 2023 session. Members of the public also may view floor sessions and committee meetings on the New Mexico Legislature’s Webcasts tab, and provide comment via phone or Zoom as directed on the daily schedule.