Bills that would transform Legislature move forward

Members of a House committee approved two measures Monday that would transform the state’s legislative process — creating a pathway for both a paid Legislature and 60-day sessions every year.

The House Government, Election & Indian Affairs Committee approved two joint resolutions — HJR 2 and HJR 8 — that would allow voters in 2024 the opportunity to vote for constitutional amendments enabling the changes.

House Joint Resolution 8, which would open the door for lawmaker to receive a set salary “would diversify our Legislature … in terms of experience.” said Rep. Angelica Rubio, D-Las Cruces.

Rubio is one of 34 sponsors, all House Democrats. The House Government, Elections and Indian Affairs Committee voted 5-3 to approve the joint resolution Monday.

HJR 8 would establish a nine-member citizens’ commission charged with establishing and adjusting salaries for the 112-member legislative body. Lawmakers would not begin receiving a salary until July 2026.

Because the joint resolutions go directly to voters to decide, the governor does not have to sign off on the initiatives.

Regarding paying lawmakers, HJR 8 says the commissioners must take into account state revenues, other compensation or allowances — such as the per diem payments New Mexico lawmakers currently receive — before establishing a salary base, according to the bill. Salaries cannot be raised or lowered by more than 10% in a single adjustment.

Lawmakers receive per diem but not a salary. According to the Nationa