Thursday, January 28, 2010

Roundhouse Roundup: Finding Voting Records Made Easy

A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
January 28, 2010

In 2007, the state Senate passed a resolution that required the Legislative Council Service to post roll-call votes on the Legislature's Web site within a day of the vote. As reported in this very column, the measure's sponsor, Sen. Rod Adair, R-Roswell, joked that he carried the legislation so he could find out how he voted on various bills the day before.

But three years later, the state House of Representatives still doesn't post its votes online. Those looking for specific votes on bills have to go harass the folks in the House clerk's office or look for it in those big books they keep in the Legislative Council Service Library.

That could change, however. Rep. Zach Cook, R-Ruidoso, has introduced House Resolution 3, which is similar to Adair's old measure.

"It will be helpful to a lot of people who can see how their representative votes," Cook said Wednesday. He said the House Rules Committee is expected to hear HR 3 on Friday.

If this passes, maybe it would put pressure on the Senate to get one of those cool electronic voting boards like they have in the House.

Speaking of House Rules and transparency measures, there are a couple of webcasting bills in that committee. HR 1, sponsored by House Republican Whip Keith Gardner of Roswell, would mandate webcasting of House floor sessions, while HR 2, sponsored by Rep. Jeff Steinborn, D-Las Cruces, would have official podcasts from committee meetings. (Some lawmakers and media organizations have done this on their own.) Gardner said his bill may be heard Friday.

Sitting out the Super Bowl: Super Sunday apparently will be just another Sunday for New Mexico's congressional delegation.

Pro Publica, an online investigative reporting organization, this week asked reporters and concerned citizens around the country to ask their senators and representatives whether they would be going to Miami to watch the Super Bowl on Feb. 7.

"Why would we cast our skeptical eyeglass on Congress and the Super Bowl?" the Web site asks rhetorically. "Because the event "has long been used to rub shoulders, gain influence and form ties that help congressional candidates raise the approximately $1 billion they spend on their campaigns every two years."

So far, only a handful of Congress members have been confirmed as going to the game. According to The Sunlight Foundation's Party Time Web site, which tracks Congress fundraisers, Rep. Steve Scalise, R-Louisiana, is inviting supporters to join him at Sun Life Stadium in Miami. There's no price tag listed, although those interested are encouraged to contact Scalise's fundraising firm.

Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., is having a fundraising luncheon in Miami before the Super Bowl. Party Time reports, "$5,000 will get you a ticket to the game plus two admissions to the luncheon, at Joe's Stone Crab."

Could it be that someone in New Mexico's delegation is having some fundraising bacchanalia with the New Orleans Saints cheerleaders or something?

Not a chance.

Rep. Ben Ray Luján won't be going to Miami for the big game, his spokesman, Mark Nicastre said. Last year on Super Sunday, Luján held one of his "Congress on the Corner" events at an Española shopping center, where he handed out information on the digital television transition, which was a hot topic back then. Nicastre added, "and I'm pretty sure he watched the game at home."

Rep. Harry Teague's office had a similar answer. "No, the congressman will not be attending the Super Bowl, he'll be back traveling throughout his district visiting with constituents like he does almost every day the House isn't voting," said spokeswoman Sara Schreiber. Teague didn't go to the game last year either, she said. Same with Rep. Martin Heinrich of Albuquerque, and both of the state's U.S. senators, Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall. None of them went last year either, their respective communication staffers said.
Lonesome Dave debut: Former Gov. David Cargo's new autobiography, Lonesome Dave is about to be published by Sunstone Press.

The ex-gov will be at a book-signing event at Collected Works Bookstore in Santa Fe at 6 p.m. March 1.