NM Legislative Council Fails To Approve Anti-Harassment Policy Changes
Changes to the New Mexico Legislature’s anti-harassment policy will have to wait as the latest proposed changes couldn’t pass the Legislative Council Committee.
The proposal that was presented to lawmakers on Tuesday was modified from the plan from two weeks ago, but it still had its critics.
Republicans were opposed to the proposal to add a non-legislator fifth member to the committees that investigate harassment complaints.
The fifth member, who would have legal expertise in harassment matters, would only vote if the two Republican and two Democrats on the committee were deadlocked. Republicans on the committee questioned how to ensure the fifth member wouldn’t be politically biased.
Supporters say after any tie votes the investigation remains in limbo and all parties deserve a conclusion.
In the end the proposal failed on a tie vote when Gallup Democrat Rep. Patricia Lundstrom joined all the Republicans to vote no. Supporters say the plan was only a beginning, during the hearing she wasn’t happy with a piecemeal approach.
Lundstrum also said there are other alternatives available to lawmakers if need be. She noted the time she filed charges against then-State Rep. Sandra Jeff in 2009. Charges that were later dropped.
“I wasn’t worried about anything except to go right down there and file a police report,” she said. “so I don’t think that we are helpless in these situations,” she said.
The proposal’s supporters were very unhappy after the vote.
Co-sponsor Daymon Ely says the GOP likes the system as it is, which he says is clearly broken.
“And now you’ve got to wait until the legislature starts (in January) to discuss this and fix these problems but they kicked the can down the road,” he said. “In my judgment that’s not the right thing to do.”
Also angry were members of domestic violence and other support groups who have been calling for changes and the expulsion of Senator Daniel Ivey-Soto due to the harassment complaints that were filed against him. He denies the allegations and says the investigation ended with no charges filed.
They again called for the legislature to establish an independent body to investigate harassment claims against elected state officials.