The Progress of HB 291, Amending the Financial Disclosure Act

New Mexico Ethics Watch Releases Statement on the Progress of HB 291, Amending the Financial Disclosure Act

 

New Mexico Ethics Watch applauds the House State Government, Indian and Veterans’ Affairs Committee’s passing HB 291 out of committee and on to the House floor. HB 291 makes small but important changes to the Financial Disclosure Act. We also applaud the Secretary of State for her support of this legislation. We urge the House to schedule a vote on HB 291 quickly so the Senate can get to work, see the bill through to final passage, and send it on to the Governor’s desk.

 

As NMEW noted when the bill was introduced, HB 291 is a step in the right direction towards reform of the Financial Disclosure Act. The bill includes some of the recommendations for changes to the Act contained in a recent report by New Mexico Ethics Watch. In order to give the people of New Mexico the transparency they deserve and require, however, there are many significant changes still to the Act that remain necessary.

 

“It was encouraging to see HB 291 pass out of committee with little debate and with bipartisan support,” Douglas Carver, Executive Director of NMEW said. “NMEW hopes that the full House will soon send this legislation to the Senate, and that the Senate will speed HB 291 on its way.”

 

“We had hoped to see more aggressive amendments to the Financial Disclosure Act introduced this session,” Carver added. “If any House member wished to be a true champion of transparency, they could amend HB 291 on the House floor with the recommendations NMEW made in its report on the Act.” That report, Learning to Walk: New Mexico’s Anemic Financial Disclosure Regimen, is available on NMEW’s website, nmethicswatch.org.

 

“This bill is a very small first step,” Carver concluded. “We hope the Legislature will further amend the Act and provide the people of New Mexico greater transparency.”

 

The Financial Disclosure Act should be amended to:

 

  • Remove the requirement that sources of income be reported under “broad general categories” and real estate holdings by “general description”, and instead require specificity in reporting for these categories.
  • Expand collateral filing requirements to include domestic partners and other family or household members.
  • Require reporting of income under bands of income so that it is clear how significant a holding a particular asset or financial interest is.
  • Tighten the requirements surrounding reporting of the filer’s residences, requiring a spouse or domestic partner to report their residence address; requiring the filer of the form to indicate whether their residence is owned or rented, and if rented, from whom; and requiring owned residences to be declared along with other real property holdings.
  • Remove the present limitations on reporting membership on boards, business interests, professional licenses, and similar associations to New Mexico. Such licenses, board memberships, and business interests should be reported wherever they occur.

 

New Mexico Ethics Watch is a non-partisan organization founded in 2016 dedicated to promoting ethics and accountability in government and public life. NMEW advances its mission through research, litigation, policy advocacy, and media outreach.

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