By Lance Chilton
A straw poll in this household has confirmed that New Mexico has the best legislative website in the nation. Isn’t it wonderful to be on the top of a good list. (Disclaimer: members of this household haven’t spent a lot of time on the other 49 states’ websites.)
In advance of this year’s legislative session, slated to run from Tuesday, January 17 to Saturday, March 18, I’d like to introduce you to some of the features of New Mexico’s Legislature’s fine source of information, nmlegis.gov. Today, a top-line overview, later a deeper dig into its features.
I envision you reading this from your email or on-line at bernalillodems.org. So open another window in your browser and type in nmlegis.gov. You should see a lovely picture of our state capitol — itself a lovely place, but that’s another story – and below the blue header, which includes New Mexico’s red-and-yellow flag, a group of clickable words, which I’ll describe below.
Home. Here you’ll find the session dates of importance, a legislative news feed and a search engine for legislation (but there’s a better one at Legislation).
Legislators. Whether or not you know who your state rep and state senator are, you can find them here. I can tell the site has just been updated, since State Rep. Marsella Duarte, just appointed last week from Bernalillo County’s District 16, is there. Put in your address and you’ll find the legislators representing you, or if you already know, you can click on their photo and you’ll get all sorts of information about them that we’ll detail in part II. Or look up any other of the 112 legislators. More on this in Part II of this short series.
Legislation. Look up any piece of legislation – resolution, memorial or bill – from any session from 1996 to yesterday (well, at least to 2022’s Third Special Session, and in a week or two, to the 2023 session). Look them up by bill number, if you know it, by sponsoring legislator, by subject (such as health or gaming), by keyword (such as immunization or horse racing). Click on the bill of interest and you’ll get… But more details of this rich part of the site in Part III.
Committees. Want to know which committees there are, either during the session or between sessions (they’re different)? Who the chairperson is and who else sits on that committee? When they meet? Upcoming agendas? They’re all there for each of the session nine committees in the Senate, the 14 committees in the House, or the 23 joint House-Senate interim committees. More on this to come.
Publications. State government publishes a great many studies, reports and documents. Most are available here, with a good search engine, so you can find out what the Legislative Finance Committee has said about mental health care in NM, or the Legislative Educational Study Committee has written about school testing, for example. A rich trove, to be discussed.
What’s Happening. Important dates, committee meetings coming up, daily calendars for session committees and floor sessions. There’s a link to the next header…
Webcast. Did you know that you can watch virtually any committee meeting or floor session from the comfort of your desk chair? I know, it’s more fun to be there to watch the action in person in our beautiful Capitol, but there are times when this part of the website is much easier. Try clicking on any of the entries to be admitted to the virtual committee room or the House or Senate floor.
Quick Links. Another treasure trove, taking you from Anti-Harassment Policy to Website Video Tutorial through many useful sites.
Highlights. An archive of highlights from past legislative sessions, written by the Legislative Council Service. They’re not short – the highlights of the 2022 sessions, all four of them, is 172 pages long, but they’re well-organized and good reading.
Contact Us. The briefest header, with important phone numbers for the Legislature and its full-time agencies, including the Legislative Council Service, the Legislative Education Study Committee and the Legislative Finance Committee.
So have a look at our Legislature’s excellent website, nmlegis.gov, and you’ll find yourself hooked – in a goo