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Bill would prevent lobbyists' spending during session

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By Andrew Oxford
The New Mexican

It is hard to find even a bottle of water in the state Capitol that hasn't been paid for by some special interest group.

But that could change. At the very least, New Mexicans could get a much better idea of what all those groups are lobbying for at the state Capitol.

The state House of Representatives voted 62-0 Sunday night to pass a bill that would ban lobbyists from making any expenditures on legislators while they are in session.

House Bill 131, which now goes to the state Senate, was originally written to require lobbyists to report which pieces of legislation they worked on during a session, potentially expanding the public's insight into dealmaking and conflicts of interest at the Capitol.

But as the House took up the bill, Minority Leader Jim Townsend, R-Artesia, proposed an amendment that would prohibit lobbyists from making any expenditures or political contributions to legislators during what is known as the prohibited period, which stretches from the Jan. 1 through the end of the session each year.

"My intention is to limit a lobbyist from making any expenditure, whether they're providing a committee dinner or putting drinks in your office, ..." said Townsend. "It's removing them from the process."


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