Rio Grande SPJ chapter president Laura Paskus delivered this statement today at a committee hearing for HB10. The board opposes this legislation because it believes the bill would decrease transparency in state government. The House, State Government, Indian and Veteran’s Affairs committee voted 6 to 3 to pass the bill out of committee. It now heads to House Judiciary Committee.
The Rio Grande Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists always appreciates when legislators take an interest in issues related to transparency and public accountability. However, we do not support the current bill.
The only thing transparent about a southern New Mexico lawmaker’s attempt to obscure public records from the public is the adverse effect it would have on citizens. And so it goes with SB93, the brainchild of Sen. Mary Kay Papen, D-Las Cruces. This ill-conceived piece of legislation, pre-filed in advance of the 60-day legislative session, would exempt the applications of prospective government employees from public scrutiny — in some cases, the applications would apparently be secret forever. Papen’s bill would add yet another exception to disclosure under the New Mexico Inspection of Public Records Act (IPRA), the state’s sunshine and transparency law that allows the public to see how government works and how its money is being spent. The proposed bill provides that the names and resume of any “finalist for the head of any agency, state institution or political subdivision of the state shall be made available prominently on the entity’s website no fewer than seven days prior to the final decision to hire the individual.”
That’s cold comfort, at best, for fans of transparent government.
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