NM constitutional amendments approved; includes a new ethics commission

Poll watcher files ballots at Albuquerque High School on Nov. 6th Photo By Amy Byres/ NM News Port

New Mexican voters chose to support two constitutional amendments on Election Day.

New Mexico Constitutional Amendment 1 affects the appeals process. Cases, such as certain misdemeanors and civil cases, now have the potential to avoid the district courts and go to the Court of Appeals.

New Mexico Constitutional Amendment 2 will create a state ethics commission to investigate state officials accused of ethical violations.

“It’s been a fight,” said Democratic Rep. Daymon Ely of Bernalillo and Sandoval County.

“I think (Amendment 2) can be a game changer in keeping track of legislators.”

He was also in support of Amendment 1.

“It’s one of those amendments where you ask, ‘How come this hasn’t happened sooner?’”

Ely said the appeals process was outdated and needed to be updated to be similar with other states.

Ely and Republican Rep. Jim Dines of Bernalillo County said the Amendment 2 has been in the works for over 20 years.

Dines said he does not know why it took so long for Amendment 2 to be passed, because he believes there is not enough transparency.

“Without transparency, this would be a toothless tiger,” he said, referring to the importance of letting the public see the inner workings of government.

Dines referred to a poll by Common Cause New Mexico that indicates that corruption and large political donors are major concerns among registered New Mexico voters.

The new ethics commission will include commissioners appointed by the state senate, the senate minority leader, speaker of the state house and house minority leader. The new commissioners will determine what ethical complaints and issues to investigate, according to Ballotpedia.

“People are concerned about corruption,” Dines said. “It can have a major impact on whether businesses come to New Mexico.”

Sol Traverso can be contacted on Twitter @SolTraversoinc.