New Mexico Senate Votes To Restrict Public Access To Nonelective Job Candidate Lists

by Reporter / Mar 13, 2019 / 0 comments

New Mexico Senate Votes To Restrict Public Access To Nonelective Job Candidate Lists


State senators Friday approved a bill denying the public access to lists of applicants for nonelective executive jobs, such as school superintendents and city and county managers.

Under Senate Bill 259, only the names and résumés of at least three finalists would have to be made public.

The proposal carried in a 27-14 vote. It now goes to the House of Representatives.

Sen. Bill Tallman, a Democrat from Albuquerque and a former city manager, said many well-qualified executives are afraid to apply for public jobs if there's a possibility their name will be disclosed.

In an interview, Tallman said he ran afoul of one of his bosses when he was a city manager in Pennsylvania and his name surfaced for a job in Florida. Florida's public records laws are among the strongest in the country.

Sens. Steve Neville, R-Farmington, and Jacob Candelaria, D-Albuquerque, were part of a bipartisan group that voted for the bill.

Candelaria said it would bring consistency to government, given that state institutions of higher education already are exempted from having to provide the names of most candidates for college and university presidencies. State law only requires college and university governing boards to publish a list of five finalists at least 21 days before a president is hired.

 Neville said newspapers and the Foundation for Open Government don't like the bill, but the greater good is in attracting a strong pool of applicants for executive jobs.

 The minority floor leader, Sen. Stuart Ingle, R-Portales, voted against the bill. He said neither the six newspapers in his district nor his constituents favor restrictions on learning who is seeking executive government jobs.

 After voting to curtail records pertaining to executive positions, the Senate took a different stand on state settlements paid on human rights claims.

 Senate Bill 317 would require state agencies to post details in these cases on the Sunshine Portal.

The sponsor of the bill, Sen. Sander Rue, R-Albuquerque, said it would take 210 days after a settlement for the information to be publicized on the website. Existing law allows the state to withhold details of its settlements for 180 days. Another month would be allowed for the records to be culled and then posted on the Sunshine Portal, Rue said.

The state would have to publicize the nature of the human rights claim and the state agency or office it was made against. And the agency would have to disclose the total amount of state money that was paid to settle the claim. This would include damages and attorney fees.

 Postings would exclude the names and job titles of people who brought a claim.

This bill also goes to the House of Representatives for its consideration.



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