It’s among the worst traditions in New Mexico politics: The annual parade of proposed legislation that would hinder public access to the workings of state government — a government that we the people, of course, pay for.
The offenders this year come from both parties and from both houses of the legislature. Five bills in particular pose, as currently drafted, significant threats to open government and the public’s right to know. They are:
- SB 259, sponsored by Sen. Bill Tallman (D, Bernalillo)
- SB 232, sponsored by Sen. Pat Woods (R, Curry)
- SB 381, sponsored by Sen. Pete Campos (D, Colfax)
- SB 422, sponsored by Sen. John Sapien (D, Bernalillo)
- HB 437, sponsored by Rep. Andrea Romero (D, Santa Fe)
Fortunately, the last one has been tabled, but even its drafting shows a distressing level of hostility toward First Amendment protections in some sectors of the Roundhouse.
As the largest organization of professional journalists in New Mexico, SPJ Rio Grande stands firmly in favor of transparency, unfettered access to government records and data, and the constitutional rights of the media and of all state residents.
The SPJ Rio Grande board of directors has a history of opposing government efforts to reduce transparency, and we will continue to do so. We join with other journalists and open government advocates in opposing these deeply flawed and cynical measures that would shield public information from the people of New Mexico.
We will track the progress of these troubling bills throughout the session in the table below, and we will continue to build the table as new measures to reduce transparency are introduced.
Anti-transparency legislationThe SPJ Rio Grande board of directors expresses grave concern about the following bills under consideration by the New Mexico state legislature.
|SB 259||Tallman||Would severely limit public inspection of candidates for government "executive" positions.||In committee|
|SB 232||Woods||Would raise fees for public records, allow government to interrogate requesters and limit access to public information.||In committee|
|SB 381||Campos||Would drastically expand information that could be redacted from public records.||In committee|
|SB 442||Sapien||Would require people to pay up to a dollar per page for public electronic records.||In committee|
|HB 437||Romero||Would have required publishers to remove online information upon request.||Tabled indefinitely|
We also invite legislators and staff to reach out to discuss any proposals that would impact IPRA, the open meetings act or other open records laws in our state.
This post was written by John R. Roby and endorsed by the SPJ Rio Grande board of directors.