2019 & 2018 NM Ballot – Constitutional Amendments and Bonds

2019 Constitutional Amendments and Bonds

Constitutional Amendment 1 Proposal to Amend NM Constitution to permit the Governor to appoint three members to the Public Regulation Commission(PRC) in lieu of five members elected by the public.  The Governor’s nominees must be approved by the NM Senate.

A summary of this amendment follows:

Proposed to amend NM Constitution to require that the Governor appoint three members from a list of professionally qualified nominees submitted to the Governor as required by Law.  The Commission is required to regulate utilities and may be required to regulate other public service companies.

Currently the PRC consists of five members elected districts provided for by law for staggered four-year terms beginning on January 1 of the year following their election.  An elected member may serve no more than two terms or a total of eight years.  The current law would expire on January 1, 2023.  Commission members elected for terms beginning January 1, 2021 would only serve two years.

Beginning January 1, 2023 the Governor will be authorized to appoint three members with the approval of the NM Senate to the PRC.  Members shall serve a staggered six-year term and can serve no more than two terms or a total 12 years.  A person appointed to fill a vacancy will complete the term.  One member will be appointed for two years, one for four years, and one for six years.

Required professional qualifications and continuing educational requirements for members will be spelled out in the law.

A commission member may be impeached for 1) accepting gifts from those regulated by the PRC, 2) malfeasance, 3) misfeasance, or 4) neglect of duty.

This Constitutional Amendment will be submitted to NM voters for approval at the next general election or a special election prior to that date.

2018 Constitutional Amendments and Bonds

11-28-2018  As usual, New Mexico voters continue to vote for anything on the ballot.  So all of the Constitutional Amendments and Bonds passed.  We will leave the information on these items posted and follow what develops. 

On the 2018 ballot, there are two Constitutional Amendments, four State Bonds, Six County Bonds, and One Flood Control Bond.  The following information is provided about these items to help voters understand what they are voting for or against.

New Mexico Constitutional Amendment 1, Judicial Appeal Process Provided by Law Amendment (2018)

A “yes” vote supports this amendment to empower the legislature to pass laws (1) setting the appeals process from probate courts and other inferior courts to higher courts and (2) determining which cases originating in inferior courts and tribunals fall under the appellate jurisdiction of district courts.

A “no” vote opposes this amendment, meaning district courts would continue to have appellate jurisdiction over all cases originating in and appealed from inferior courts.

Measure design

As of 2018, Article VI of the New Mexico Constitution requires that (1) legal appeals originating in probate courts, municipal courts, magistrate courts, and the Bernalillo Metropolitan Court go to the New Mexico District Courts and (2) districts courts hear all cases that originated in and were appealed from the inferior courts and tribunals. The New Mexico Legislature cannot change this appeals process without the passage of Amendment 1. Amendment 1 would allow the legislature to pass bills, which would require the governor’s signature, setting the appeals process from the inferior courts to higher courts and determine what courts and types of cases the district courts would have appellate jurisdiction over. For example, Amendment 1 would allow the legislature to decide that cases in the Bernalillo Metropolitan Court get appealed to the Court of Appeals, rather than a district court. The New Mexico Constitution allows the legislature to set the appellate jurisdiction of the New Mexico Court of Appeals, but not the New Mexico District Courts

 In the New Mexico State Legislature

Amendment 1 received bipartisan support in the New Mexico State Legislature. Sen. Cliff R. Pirtle (R-32) was the sole legislator to vote against referring the amendment. Between 1996 and 2016, the state legislature referred to voters 52 ballot measures to change the state constitution. Voters approved 45 (84.91 percent) of the referred amendments.

See also: Article VI, New Mexico Constitution

The measure would amend Sections 13 and 27 of Article VI of the New Mexico Constitution. The following underlined text would be added and text would be deleted:

Sections 13 of Article VI

The district court shall have original jurisdiction in all matters and causes not excepted in this constitution, and such jurisdiction of special cases and proceedings as provided by law, and appellate jurisdiction of cases originating in inferior courts and tribunals in their respective districts as provided by law, and supervisory control over the same. The district courts, or any judge thereof, shall have power to issue writs of habeas corpus, mandamus, injunction, quo warranto, certiorari, prohibition and all other writs, remedial or otherwise in the exercise of their jurisdiction; provided, that no such writs shall issue directed to judges or courts of equal or superior jurisdiction. The district courts shall also have the power of naturalization in accordance with the laws of the United States. Until otherwise provided by law, at least two terms of the district court shall be held annually in each county, at the county seat.

Sections 27 of Article VI

Appeals shall be allowed in all cases from the final judgments and decisions of the probate courts and other inferior courts as provided by law.

Supporters

The following legislators sponsored the amendment in the legislature:

Opposition

In the state legislature, one Republican member voted against referring the amendment to the ballot.[3]

Background

System of judicial appeal in New Mexico

As of 2018, the state of New Mexico had four inferior courts:

When the parties involved in a lawsuit appeal their case from one of these four inferior courts or a tribunal to a higher court, the lawsuit, according to Sections 13 and 27 of Article VI of the New Mexico Constitution, must go to a New Mexico District Court. There are 13 district courts in New Mexico, covering the state’s 33 counties.

Cases in the New Mexico District Court can be appealed to the New Mexico Court of Appeals and then to the state’s highest court, the New Mexico Supreme Court. The state Supreme Court has original jurisdiction over certain types of cases.

When the Court of Appeals was created in 1965, the state constitution provided that the state legislature set the court’s jurisdiction. Therefore, the legislature was given the power to set what courts and types of cases the Court of Appeals has appellate jurisdiction over. The constitution did not provide similar language for the district courts, meaning the state legislature could not set what courts and types of cases the district courts have appellate jurisdiction over.

Path to the ballot

See also: Amending the New Mexico Constitution

In New Mexico, both chambers of the New Mexico State Legislature need to approve a constitutional amendment by a simple majority during one legislative session to refer the amendment to the ballot for voter approval.

On December 15, 2016, the amendment was introduced into the legislature as Senate Joint Resolution 1 (SJR 1). The New Mexico Senate approved the measure, with 38 senators in favor and one against, on February 9, 2017. Sen. Cliff R. Pirtle (R-32) was the sole legislator to vote against referring the amendment. An additional three senators were absent or excused from the vote. The House Judiciary Committee voted to amend the ballot measure on March 14, 2017. The amended bill passed the House of Representatives, with 67 representatives in favor and three excused or absent. As SJR 1 was amended, the Senate needed to concur with the changes for the amendment to appear on the ballot. On March 17, 2017, the Senate concurred with the House amendments.

The 2017 legislative session ran from January 17, 2017, through March 18, 2017.

New Mexico Constitutional Amendment 2, Independent Ethics Commission Amendment (2018)

New Mexico Constitutional Amendment 2, the Independent Ethics Commission Amendment, is on the ballot in New Mexico as a legislatively referred constitutional amendment on November 6, 2018.

A “yes” vote supports this amendment to create a seven-member state ethics commission tasked with investigating alleged violations of ethical conduct by state officials, executive and legislative employees, candidates, lobbyists, government contractors, and others as provided by law.

A “no” vote opposes this amendment to create a seven-member state ethics commission tasked with investigating alleged violations of ethical conduct by state officials, executive and legislative employees, candidates, lobbyists, government contractors, and others as provided by law.

Overview

Measure design

Amendment 2 would create a seven-member state ethics commission tasked with investigating alleged violations of ethical conduct by state officials, executive and legislative employees, candidates, lobbyists, government contractors, and others. The commission would also be empowered to subpoena witnesses and individuals for evidence and issue advisory opinions on ethical issues and violations. Amendment 2 would provide that no more than three of the seven commissioners be members of the same political party. The governor, president pro tempore of the state Senate, Senate minority leader, speaker of the state House, and House minority leader would each appoint one commissioner—for a total of five commissioners. The last two commissioners would be appointed by the four commissioners appointed by the legislative leaders.

State ethics commissions in other states

As of January 1, 2018, New Mexico was one of seven states without a state ethics commission. The remaining 43 states had state ethics commissions, with four states providing for ethics commissions in their state constitutions. New Mexico Amendment 2 would provide for a state ethics commission in the state constitution. Neighboring Colorado, Oklahoma, and Utah all added state ethics commissions to their constitutions through ballot measures.

Text of measure

Constitutional changes

See also: Article V, New Mexico Constitution

The measure would add a new section to Article V of the New Mexico Constitution. The following text would be added:

A. The “state ethics commission” is established as an independent state agency under the direction of seven commissioners, no more than three of whom may be members of the same political party, whose terms and qualifications shall be as provided by law. The governor shall appoint one commissioner. One commissioner each shall be appointed by the president pro tempore of the senate, the minority floor leader of the senate, the speaker of the house of representatives and the minority floor leader of the house of representatives, all as certified by the chief clerks of the respective chambers. Two commissioners, who shall not be members of the same political party, shall be appointed by the four legislatively appointed commissioners.

B. The state ethics commission may initiate, receive, investigate and adjudicate complaints alleging violations of, and issue advisory opinions concerning, standards of ethical conduct and other standards of conduct and reporting requirements, as may be provided by law, for state officers and employees of the executive and legislative branches of government, candidates or other participants in elections, lobbyists or government contractors or seekers of government contracts and have such other jurisdiction as provided by law.

C. The state ethics commission may require the attendance of witnesses or the production of records and other evidence relevant to an investigation by subpoena as provided by law and shall have such other powers and duties and administer or enforce such other acts as further provided by law.

Supporters

Officials

Organizations

Opposition

  • Ballotpedia has not identified any opponents to this measure. If you are aware of an article citing opponents or opposition arguments, please email it to editor@ballotpedia.org.

Background

State ethics commissions

  • As of January 1, 2018, six states, including New Mexico, did not have state ethics commissions. The remaining 43 states had state ethics commissions, with four states providing for ethics commissions in their state constitutions. New Mexico Amendment 2 would provide for a state ethics commission in the state constitution.
  • Neighboring Colorado, Oklahoma, and Utah were three of the four states with constitutional state ethics commissions. In Colorado, the constitutional state ethics commission was created in 2006, following voter approval of Initiative 41. Oklahoma’s ethics commission was created in 1990, when voters approved the initiated State Question 627. In 2010, the Utah State Legislature referred Amendment D to the ballot, which established a state ethics commission. Voters approved Amendment D.
  • The following map illustrates what states had ethics commissions as of January 1, 2018:

 Path to the ballot

 See also: Amending the New Mexico Constitution

  • In New Mexico, both chambers of the state legislature need to approve a constitutional amendment by a simple majority during one legislative session to refer the amendment to the ballot for voter approval.
  • The amendment was introduced into the legislature as House Joint Resolution 8 (HJR 8). The House of Representatives approved the measure, 66 to zero, on March 9, 2017. An additional four representatives were excused or absent from the vote. On March 15, 2017, the Senate Rules Committee voted nine to one to amend HJR 8. On March 16, 2017, the Senate approved the modified amendment, with 30 senators voting in favor, nine voting against, and three excused from the vote. The House voted down the changes made to HJR 8, and the Senate voted against rescinding the changes. A joint House-Senate conference committee was established to negotiate the bill. An agreement was reached on March 17, 2017, and both the House and the Senate approved the amendment.

Remember if you vote “no” on bonds, your taxes may go down!

State Bonds

New Mexico Senior Citizen Facilities Bond (2018)

The New Mexico Senior Citizen Facilities Bond is on the ballot in New Mexico as a legislatively referred bond question on November 6, 2018

A “yes” vote supports authorizing the sale and issuance of $10.77 million in bonds for senior citizen facilities, including to address code compliance issues and purchasing new equipment and vehicles.

A “no” vote opposes authorizing the sale and issuance of $10.77 million in bonds for senior citizen facilities, including to address code compliance issues and purchasing new equipment and vehicles.

Overview

What is the bond measure for?

The bond measure would issue no more than $10.77 million in general obligation bonds to address code compliance issues and purchasing new equipment and vehicles for senior citizen facilities across the state. A general obligation bond is a public debt and is paid for through state funds, specifically funds from a statewide property tax in New Mexico.

What is the history of bond measures in New Mexico?

Voters of New Mexico cast ballots on 21 bond issues, totaling $1.04 billion in value, between January 1, 2006, and January 1, 2018. All but one bond issue question—a $155.57 million bond for higher education—was approved. As of June 30, 2017, the state debt from general obligation bonds was $300.18 million and the state debt from general obligation bonds per state resident was $143.76. Both the general obligation bond debt and per resident bond debt in 2017 were lower than amounts (in current dollars) from the prior decade.

Text of measure

Ballot title

The ballot title is as follows:

The 2018 Capital Projects General Obligation Bond Act authorizes the issuance and sale of senior citizen facility improvement, construction and equipment acquisition bonds. Shall the state be authorized to issue general obligation bonds in an amount not to exceed ten million seven hundred seventy thousand dollars ($10,770,000) to make capital expenditures for certain senior citizen facility improvement, construction and equipment acquisition projects and provide for a general property tax imposition and levy for the payment of principal of, interest on and expenses incurred in connection with the issuance of the bonds and the collection of the tax as permitted by law?

As of September 19, 2018, there were no ballot measure committees registered in support of the measure or in opposition to the measure.

Background

Bond issues on the ballot in New Mexico

See also: Bond issues on the ballot

Voters of New Mexico cast ballots on 21 bond issues, totaling $1.04 billion in value, from January 1, 2006, through January 1, 2018. All but one bond issue, a $155.57 million bond in 2010 to provide capital expenditures for higher education and special schools, was approved. This means that voters in New Mexico approved 95 percent of bond issues on the ballot between 2006 and 2017.

General obligation bond debt

The New Mexico state treasurer provides an overview of the state’s debt resulting from general obligation bonds, which include all voter-approved bonds, each year on June 30. A general obligation bond is a public debt and is paid for through state funds, specifically funds from a statewide property tax in New Mexico.

According to the state treasurer’s overview on June 30, 2017, New Mexico had $300.18 million in debt from general obligation bonds. The June 2017 debt from general obligation bonds was lower than the June 2016 debt, which was $379.53 million.

Using population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau, Ballotpedia calculated the per person amount of general obligation bond debt in New Mexico by year. On June 30, 2017, the general obligation bond debt per New Mexican resident was $143.76. On June 30, 2016, the per person debt was $182.38. Between 1998 and 2017, the per person debt peaked in 2008, when the per person debt was $227.14.

 Path to the ballot

See also: Legislatively-referred state statute

In New Mexico, both chambers of the New Mexico State Legislature need to approve a bond issue by a simple majority during one legislative session to refer the bond measure to the ballot for voter consideration.

The bond measure was introduced into the state legislature as Senate Bill 94 (SB 94) during the 2018 legislative session. On February 12, 2018, the New Mexico Senate approved the bond measure 38 to 0 with four members excused from voting. On February 13, 2018, the New Mexico House of Representatives approved SB 94 in a vote of 67 to 0 with three members excused. On March 7, 2018, Gov. Susana Martinez (R) signed SB 94, placing the bond measure on the ballot.

New Mexico School Buses Bond (2018)

A “yes” vote supports authorizing the sale and issuance of $6.137 million in bonds to purchase school buses and equip school buses with air conditioning.

A “no” vote opposes authorizing the sale and issuance of $6.137 million in bonds to purchase school buses and equip school buses with air conditioning.

Overview

What is the bond measure for?

The bond measure would issue no more than $6.137 million in general obligation bonds to purchase school buses for school districts and equipping school buses with air conditioning, including school buses owned by contractors if the school district determines that air conditioning is necessary. A general obligation bond is a public debt and is paid for through state funds, specifically funds from a statewide property tax in New Mexico.

What is the history of bond measures in New Mexico?

Voters of New Mexico cast ballots on 21 bond issues, totaling $1.04 billion in value, between January 1, 2006, and January 1, 2018. All but one bond issue question—a $155.57 million bond for higher education—was approved. As of June 30, 2017, the state debt from general obligation bonds was $300.18 million and the state debt from general obligation bonds per state resident was $143.76. Both the general obligation bond debt and per resident bond debt in 2017 were lower than amounts (in current dollars) from the prior decade.

Text of measure

Ballot title

The ballot title is as follows:

The 2018 Capital Projects General Obligation Bond Act authorizes the issuance and sale of bonds for the purchase of school buses. Shall the state be authorized to issue general obligation bonds in an amount not to exceed six million one hundred thirty-seven thousand dollars ($6,137,000) to make capital expenditures for the purchase of school buses and provide for a general property tax imposition and levy for the payment of principal of, interest on and expenses incurred in connection with the issuance of the bonds and the collection of the tax as permitted by law.

New Mexico Public Libraries Bond (2018)

A “yes” vote supports authorizing the sale and issuance of $12.876 million in bonds for academic, public school, tribal, and public libraries.

A “no” vote opposes authorizing the sale and issuance of $12.876 million in bonds for academic, public school, tribal, and public libraries.

Overview

What is the bond measure for?

The bond measure would issue no more than $12.876 million in general obligation bonds for academic, public school, tribal, and public libraries, including for print, non-print, and electronic resources, collaborative resources, broadband internet equipment, and furniture. A general obligation bond is a public debt and is paid for through state funds, specifically funds from a statewide property tax in New Mexico. A full list of projects that the bond measure would be used for is as follows:

Recipient Amount
Non-tribal public libraries statewide for equipment, furniture, fixtures, and library resource acquisitions, broadband internet equipment, and infrastructure $4,000,000
Tribal public libraries statewide for equipment, furniture, fixtures, and library resource acquisitions, broadband internet equipment, and infrastructure $750,000
Academic libraries statewide for library resource acquisitions, collaborative library resources, and information technology $4,000,000
Public school libraries statewide statewide for equipment and library resource acquisitions $4,000,000

What is the history of bond measures in New Mexico?

Voters of New Mexico cast ballots on 21 bond issues, totaling $1.04 billion in value, between January 1, 2006, and January 1, 2018. All but one bond issue question—a $155.57 million bond for higher education—was approved. As of June 30, 2017, the state debt from general obligation bonds was $300.18 million and the state debt from general obligation bonds per state resident was $143.76. Both the general obligation bond debt and per resident bond debt in 2017 were lower than amounts (in current dollars) from the prior decade.

Ballot title

The ballot title is as follows:

The 2018 Capital Projects General Obligation Bond Act authorizes the issuance and sale of library acquisition bonds. Shall the state be authorized to issue general obligation bonds in an amount not to exceed twelve million eight hundred seventy-six thousand dollars ($12,876,000) to make capital expenditures for academic, public school, tribal and public library resource acquisitions and provide for a general property tax imposition and levy for the payment of principal of, interest on and expenses incurred in connection with the issuance of the bonds and the collection of the tax as permitted by law?

New Mexico Higher Education, Special Schools, and Tribal Schools Bond (2018)

Please note:  Enrollment in higher education has “decreased.”  NM already spends 60+% of its entire budget on education (K-12 and college). 

A “yes” vote supports authorizing the sale and issuance of $136.230 million in bonds for institutions of higher education, special schools, and tribal schools.

A “no” vote opposes authorizing the sale and issuance of $136.230 million in bonds for institutions of higher education, special schools, and tribal schools.

What is the bond measure for?

The bond measure would issue no more than $136.230 million in general obligation bonds for institutions of higher education, special schools, and tribal schools. Projects would include infrastructure improvements, renovations, planning and construction of new buildings, repairs, and demolitions. A general obligation bond is a public debt and is paid for through state funds, specifically funds from a statewide property tax in New Mexico. A full list of projects that the bond measure would be used for is as follows:

What is the history of bond measures in New Mexico?

Voters of New Mexico cast ballots on 21 bond issues, totaling $1.04 billion in value, between January 1, 2006, and January 1, 2018. All but one bond issue question—a $155.57 million bond for higher education—was approved. As of June 30, 2017, the state debt from general obligation bonds was $300.18 million and the state debt from general obligation bonds per state resident was $143.76. Both the general obligation bond debt and per resident bond debt in 2017 were lower than amounts (in current dollars) from the prior decade.

Ballot title

The ballot title is as follows:

The 2018 Capital Projects General Obligation Bond Act authorizes the issuance and sale of higher education, special schools and tribal schools capital improvement and acquisition bonds. Shall the state be authorized to issue general obligation bonds in an amount not to exceed one hundred thirty-six million two hundred thirty thousand dollars ($136,230,000) to make capital expenditures for certain higher education, special schools and tribal schools capital improvements and acquisitions and provide for a general property tax imposition and levy for the payment of principal of, interest on and expenses incurred in connection with the issuance of the bonds and the collection of the tax as permitted by law?

General obligation bond debt

The New Mexico state treasurer provides an overview of the state’s debt resulting from general obligation bonds, which include all voter-approved bonds, each year on June 30. A general obligation bond is a public debt and is paid for through state funds, specifically funds from a statewide property tax in New Mexico.

According to the state treasurer’s overview on June 30, 2017, New Mexico had $300.18 million in debt from general obligation bonds. The June 2017 debt from general obligation bonds was lower than the June 2016 debt, which was $379.53 million.

Using population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau, Ballotpedia calculated the per person amount of general obligation bond debt in New Mexico by year. On June 30, 2017, the general obligation bond debt per New Mexican resident was $143.76. On June 30, 2016, the per person debt was $182.38. Between 1998 and 2017, the per person debt peaked in 2008, when the per person debt was $227.14.

County Bonds

For complete detail on all county bonds go to the Bernalillo County book, entitled “2018 Project Summaries – General Obligation Bond Funding at https://www.bernco.gov/uploads/FileLinks/77666946e9c74f21be0a93217ca55b1f/CIP_Proj_Summ_Book_FINAL.pdf .  

This booklet presents the six-year Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) and projects identified for general obligation bond funding in 2018. The CIP shows the extent of the County’s capital funding needs for roads, parks, community centers, libraries, county buildings, trails, sidewalks, water, sewer, storm drainage, and public safety facilities. Projects in the CIP respond to basic infrastructure, quality of life facilities, property and resource protection, economic development promotion, and animal welfare concerns that County residents value.

Highly recommend you study the Bernalillo County booklet on all the projects funded by these proposed bonds to better understand what you are voting for.  As someone once said, “The devil is in the details.”

Bernalillo County has $38.5 million dollars for the new projects.  It wants to use the money in six different areas:

  • Bond No. 1 – Libraries – $1,750,000
  • Bond No. 2 – Public Safety Facilities and other County Buildings – $16,750,000
  • Bond No. 3 – Parks and Recreation – $4,950,000
  • Bond No. 4 – Transportation – $8,500,000
  • Bond No. 5 – Storm Drainage and Utilities – $5,500,000
  • Bond No. 6 – Public Housing – Please note this money would be used to build the “Tiny Homes” project which has been so controversial. – $1,250,000

Flood Control Bond – information to be provided later.