HOUSE DEMOCRATS NEWS RELEASE
Legislation addressing inequities in the legislative ethics complaint process passed the House of Representative on a bipartisan 39-28 vote this evening.
House Bill 169 updates the Interim Legislative Ethics Committee process for complaints filed against lawmakers or legislative staff. Currently, the complainant, the committee, and its staff are prohibited from disclosing any information until after a finding of probable cause, but no such prohibition falls on the respondent, the person accused in the complaint. This bill simply removes the word “complainant” to end the one-sided silence enforced by this existing statute.
The legislation is sponsored by House Majority Whip Reena Szczepanski (D-Santa Fe), Representative Christine Chandler (D-Los Alamos), Senator Joseph Cervantes (D-Las Cruces), and Senate President Pro Tem Mimi Stewart (D-Albuquerque).
“When someone brings a complaint of harassment against a member of the legislature or staff, they should be heard, not silenced. HB 169 ends the one-sided gag order that requires silence only from the person making a complaint,” said Whip Szczepanski. “Making sure this building is accessible, respectful, and safe for everyone has been a longstanding personal priority and I’m glad to see this legislation pass the House on a bipartisan vote tonight.”
“All staff and visitors to the Roundhouse should feel safe within these walls, and know that our process for addressing complaints is fair and equitable should they experience any problems,” said Rep. Chandler. “HB 167 will ensure that all parties receive equal treatment and that we do not inhibit anyone’s constitutional right to free speech.”
The Roundhouse is open to the public for the 2023 session. Members of the public can also view floor sessions and committee meetings on the New Mexico Legislature’s Webcasts tab, and provide comment via phone or Zoom as directed on the daily schedule.