BOTH Caucuses: Let's EXEMPT Ourselves!

Representative Mimi Stewart of Albuquerque has introduced House Bill 605. The bill would create much greater opportunities than ever for successful influence peddling by incumbent politicians, especially the partisan party bosses in charge of their respective caucuses. HB 605 would EXEMPT both Democratic and Republican Party caucuses from the most fundamental restrictions regarding campaign finance fundraising.
Mimi Stewart
Apparently Representative Stewart is hoping she can easily persuade incumbents in both parties to cast a self-serving vote that gives themselves additional political advantages over their opponents in primaries and general elections. The Albuquerque Journal reported that GOP House Minority Leader Tom Taylor is also on board with this atrocious legislation. Many find it simply astonishing that amidst all the contrived fanfare surrounding countless insignificant bills being introduced in Santa Fe, that there was no pomp or ceremony, let alone a press release regarding this bill. 
Tom Taylor
Why were there no efforts by either Stewart or Taylor to trumpet the wisdom of this proposal? For her part, Stewart pointed to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling when asked by the Albuquerque Journal what her excuse was for introducing such a self-serving bill. And no doubt already too powerful House Speaker Ben Lujan is licking his chops over this new power-grabbing proposal. As New Mexicans learn more about this cynical attempt by party bosses on both sides of the aisle to strengthen the advantages of incumbency, we can only hope that thousands of citizens in our state will shower their elected officials with objections to this outrageous proposal. You can read the bill here: News New Mexico


What the Heck is Going On at the Roundhouse?

Rob Nikolewski
Capitol Report New Mexico - What the heck is going on at the Roundhouse? As we mentioned in an earlier post, some Democrats got annoyed when lower-level staff members of Gov. Martinez started showing up at committee meeting hearings to record the proceedings on Flipcams — and then uploading them onto the governor’s website. (You can access the videos by clicking here.) Even though the proceedings are open to the public and webcast through Senators from both parties passed a measure this week by a 35-3 vote declaring that proceedings can only be photographed or videotaped with the approval of the respective committees’ chairman and vice-chairman. Only Sens. Sander Rue (R-Albuquerque), Mark Boitano (R-Albuquerque) and Peter Wirth (D-Santa Fe) voted against the measure, which is pitiful on its face. (NOTE: Rod Adair (R-Roswell) was absent for the vote but says he’s in favor of recording all legislative meetings.) Read full column here: News New Mexico

Open Government Watchdog Group: First Amendment Rights are Being Qualified by Committee Chairs

NMPolitics - The N.M. Foundation for Open Government sent a letter to Senate committee chairs and ranking members today stating that it is “gravely concerned” that senators are placing “new and unconstitutional restrictions” on people wanting to photograph or film public meetings. The letter came after FOG Executive Director Sarah Welsh witnessed an exchange between me and Sens. John Arthur Smith and Sue Wilson Beffort during Thursday’s Finance Committee meeting. Smith and Beffort stopped a hearing to ask who I was and why I wanted to photograph before deciding that I could proceed.
“…we witnessed the rule being implemented in a way that threatens citizens’ First Amendment rights,” Welsh wrote in the letter to senators. She wrote that the exchange between me and the senators “indicates that permission was “predicated on having an identity and a profession or purpose that met with committee approval.” “But the right to film public meetings is not conditional – it is guaranteed to all citizens by the First Amendment,” Welsh wrote. Read full story here: News New Mexico

Good News: Finally We Have Bi-Partisan Spirit - Bad News: It's to Block Open Government

Heath Haussamen
NMPolitics - The state’s Inspection of Public Records Act makes it illegal to ask someone who is requesting public records why they want to see the documents. That’s because they’re records that belong to the public. The reason a member of the public wants to inspect them is none of the government’s business. Similarly, the reason someone wants to photograph or film a public meeting of a legislative committee should be none of the government’s business. Try telling that to the New Mexico Senate. In response to Gov. Susana Martinez’s webcasting and archiving of committee meetings – which she’s using as part of a heavy lobbying effort – the vast majority of senators on Wednesday approved a new resolution requiring permission from the chair and ranking member to film, transmit or photograph a committee meeting. That essentially means you have to justify yourself. The resolution was sponsored by Senate President Pro Tempore Tim Jennings, D-Roswell. It passed on a vote of 35-3. Read full column here: News New Mexico

"Keep Our Forests Open" Rally Set

It would appear that the citizens will have to take time out of their lives again to preserve a basic freedom. Hundreds, perhaps thousands of New Mexicans are expected to rally in Silver City on Saturday, March 5th against the radicals in the Obama administration. Why? this time it is the U.S. Forest Service’s plans to close access roads inside the Gila Forest. The rally will take place starting at noon at the Silver City Convention Center. “This is the time to come together and say, "enough is enough," Congressman Steve Pearce told about 100 residents of Truth or Consequences Thursday night. “It is time for the Forest Service to keep those roads open to the public.
This is about an attempt to take away another of our freedoms as Americans.” The meeting in Truth or Consequences Thursday night was organized by the new group, “Keep Our Forest Open.” It was created by individuals that have voiced frustration over the Forest Service’s proposed Travel Management Plan, which calls for thousands of miles of roads inside the Gila to be closed. “Can we count on you to be at the rally March 5th in Silver City?” Reverend Mike Skidmore asked at the meeting. Nearly every hand was raised. “We’re just regular people leading everyday lives, but it’s time for folks like us to rise up and let our voice be heard,” said Skidmore. “We are against the Forest Service taking away our access, and we need to let them know it.”
Congressman Pearce is expected to be one of several speakers at the rally in Silver City. The “Keep Our Forest Open” organization said it is working with other organizations that use the forest, including ATV users, hunting and gun clubs, Tea Party activists, and other concerned citizens. All are planning to rally March 5th in Silver City, just two days before the deadline set by the Forest Service for public comments to be made on the issue. “I see everyday people getting energized and motivated to get involved when their freedoms are being threatened such as with the proposed road closures,” Pearce said. “It is amazing what can happen when citizens want freedom. These organizations in New Mexico are gathering momentum, and I anticipate the Forest Service will hear the voices of freedom at the March 5th rally.”