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NM Legislative Council Looking At Changes To Anti-Harassment Policy

Kevin Meerschaert
State Sen. Linda Lopez (D-Albuquerque), State Rep. Daymon Ely (D-Corrales) and New Mexico Legislative Council Services Director Raul Burciaga address the Legislative Council on proposed changes to the legislature's anti-harassment policy.

New Mexico lawmakers will spend the next two weeks mulling over proposed changes to their own anti-harassment policy. The modifications come in the wake of calls for a more open process and increase calls to remove Senator Daniel Ivey-Soto over sexual harassment allegations against him.

The changes proposed in the new Legislature anti-harassment policy includes adding a fifth person to the two legislative ethics commissions. That person would not be a lawmaker and would have experience in harassment law. The fifth would only vote to break a tie regarding any issue.

One committee investigates probable cause and the other any finding of guilt.  

Currently when there is a tie vote, the process stalls without a resolution.                

Representative Damon Ely, who co-drafted the proposed changes, says it will be one of the major issues discussed when the Legislative Committee reconvenes October 11th.

“There will be some discussion about (the) Standard of Proof.  Sen. (Peter) Worth raised that. That’s an excellent point because I didn’t see it in the rules and I was part of the drafting process,” he said. “There will also be… discussion about confidentiality. The reason it won’t be here is because that’s by statute. But I do think I’m going to hear from a lot of members trying to struggle with, ‘Well, why can’t we do anything about confidentiality?”    

Currently, there is a gag order in place regarding any investigations including those who filed the complaint.

Lawmakers say they need to find a way to protect the First Amendment rights of those who file any complaints with the presumption of innocence prior to any investigation.

Kevin Meerschaert comes to Santa Fe from Jacksonville, Florida where he spent the past 20 years covering politics, government and pretty much everything else.