HB 118, the bill aimed at banning political contributions from lobbyists and government contractors
, is on hold for now.
The bill comes at an interesting time: in the wake of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission
, the Supreme Court decision many say
changes the face of campaign finance by allowing corporations to directly support and fund candidates
for political office. (Obama decried
the decision in last night's State of the Union address, even though Citizens United has targeted him, too.
Fred Nathan of Think New Mexico
, the Santa Fe think tank backing the bill, told the House Voters & Elections Committee this morning that the Supreme Court decision "does not affect this bill"—but that assertion hardly seemed to quell some legislators' concerns.
"There's a lot in here I agree with, but we get a substitute bill dumped on us in the morning with no time to read it, add that to the Supreme Court decision, [and] I don't think we have enough time or information to digest this
," Rep. Kathy McCoy, R-Bernalillo, said.
Nathan tells SFR he and Campos felt a substitute version of HB 118 was a better option than a series of amendments, but most of the changes were made last night, leaving little time to disseminate the bill among stakeholders and even committee members. Most of the changes are relatively small—expanding "contractors" to include prospective contractors and "lobbyists" to include lobbying firms, and narrowing other definitions. Even so, as Rep. Janice Arnold-Jones, R-Bernalillo put it, "the devil is in the details."
Several audience members spoke in favor of the bill, with a surprisingly strong statement of opposition from ACLU Policy Director Diane Wood
"Limitations on contributions or expenditures for advocacy of political [candidates]...impinges directly on the freedom of speech and poses serious dangers to the First Amendment
," Wood told the committee. Full disclosure, Wood said, is a more appropriate way to go about creating a more open political system, and "for that reason, we must oppose the bill."
In the end, HB 118 went nowhere.
"We can't do this wrong,"
Rep. Tom Anderson, R-Bernalillo, said. "I move to table the bill
hopefully in a temporary way—even though there's no such thing as a temporary table—until we can appropriately do our job."
Anderson got his wish in the form of a (non-temporary) HB118 Voters & Elections Submotion to table, but Nathan says he expects the committee to discuss HB 118 again next Tuesday (Feb. 2) at 8:30am.
Updated 12:30 pm Thursday:
Below is a link to the substitute bill. Changes from the original bill
are in all caps.
HB118 Voters & Elections Sub