Op-ed: Here’s how New Mexico can create a more open, ethical legislature

In 1910, Congress passed the Enabling Act that would allow New Mexico to become a state. The act set forth the terms and conditions that would finally, after nearly 60 years of trying, allow New Mexico to join the Union.

Chief among those requirements was that a constitution be in place. So in October of that year, 100 men gathered in Santa Fe to write one. It was overwhelmingly a conservative group, 71 Republicans from the conservative wing of the party, 28 Democrats and 1 Socialist.

When their work was done they sent the proposed constitution off to Congress, where it met a snag. Article 19, which covered amending the Constitution, required such a high bar — two thirds of both houses of the Legislature and no fewer than 40 percent of voters in at least half the counties approving an amendment, and requiring that the only process to do so be a constitutional convention, and making some sections of the document immune from amendment at all — that it practically ensured that no amendment would ever pass. Continue…