Lobbyists may end up reporting far less of their spending on lawmakers under a bill lauded for improving the state's campaign finance system.
House Bill 105, signed into law by Gov. Susana Martinez this week, aims to make it easier for the public to access information about campaign contributions and lobbyists' reporting.
But the bill also ends a requirement that lobbyists report cumulative spending on lawmakers and increases the limit for reporting from $75 to $100 per event. The original bill struck the cumulative total requirement.
The House Government, Elections & Indian Affairs Committee increased the reporting limit, a change that made it through two more committees as well as the full House of Representatives and Senate.
That essentially means lobbyists could buy a lawmaker a $99 dinner multiple times but never report it.
If the law had been in effect during 2015, nearly one-fourth of the $818,000 spent by lobbyists would have gone unreported, New Mexico In Depth estimates.
One of the measure's sponsors says that wasn't the intent.
"Oh my," replies Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto, D-Albuquerque, when asked about the changes. "It was not our intent to get rid of cumulative reporting. That's a vital indicator of what people are doing and what people are spending."
Kari Fresquez, interim elections director for the secretary of state, says in the past many lobbyists filed reports with cumulative totals, but some may not have reported any expenses under $75. "What we saw is that the way the law was previously written was that it was misunderstood and misinterpreted," Fresquez says. "It certainly wasn't the intent to get less reporting."