May 11, 2020
New Mexico – When state lawmakers go to Santa Fe for the legislative session, New Mexicans expect their representatives and senators to work together to fix the state’s most pressing issues. But are elected officials meeting the expectations of their constituents? For the third consecutive year, Viante New Mexico has crafted a unique, nonpartisan scorecard to answer that question. Viante provides transparency so New Mexicans can hold their lawmakers accountable for showing up to work and addressing the state’s greatest challenges within education, crime, and quality of life.
The 2020 New Mexico 30-day legislative session saw more than 700 bills introduced. Viante has reviewed each of those bills, looking for common ground solutions with significant and far-reaching impacts on education, crime, and quality of life. Viante’s generationally and politically diverse board has spent over 800 hours analyzing these bills since the close of the session, unanimously choosing 15 Focus Bills to measure lawmakers’ effort to find common ground solutions. Five bills have been selected in each of Viante’s focus areas which exemplify the thoughtful, inclusive, and data-driven approach to lawmaking Viante aims to promote.
The bill analysis occurred prior to the economic downturn brought by the COVID-19 crisis. As a result, the Viante scorecard is a snapshot of the 2020 legislative session and does not factor in the possibility of budget cuts that may happen during a possible special session.
Viante’s scoring methodology for lawmakers is based on these 15 Focus Bills: who sponsors them (25% of overall score), and how legislators vote on them (75% of score). The resulting score shows which legislators are showing up and working to move the state forward. In the 2020 Viante Scorecard, 69% of legislators received a score of great or exceeded expectations. There were 27 lawmakers who truly excelled in 2020, not only voting for common ground bills but also sponsoring legislation which would make a positive impact on New Mexico. Republicans and Democrats appear throughout the grading scale, demonstrating Viante’s commitment to bipartisanship and impartiality.
In an additional transparency initiative, in February, Viante released legislator attendance information from the session. The average legislative attendance score in 2020 was 93.6%. Out of 112 legislators, eight had perfect attendance while the lowest attendance rate was 77.9% with 33 missed votes. Viante considers every bill, memorial, and resolution in calculating the attendance score and notes whether the legislator casts a yes or no vote. Each vote missed counts as an absence. More information on legislator attendance can be found at VianteNM.org.
“Viante is always eager to sift through legislation that has been introduced to see how our legislators are innovating to address the issues that all New Mexicans face,” commented Viante’s Executive Director, Rhiannon Samuel. “This year, there were many bills that would have had a meaningful impact on New Mexico’s quality of life and poor education standings. Unfortunately, not many bills this year focused on improving crime. More specifically, many of the criminal justice bills the board analyzed were either short-term solutions or inconsequential. We will continue to seek out meaningful legislation that members of both parties can get behind to make New Mexico a safer and more prosperous place for everyone to live, work and play.”
For more information on the 2020 Scorecard and Viante membership, please visit VianteNM.org.