Candidates in 5 largest districts must disclose campaign contributions
School board candidates in New Mexico’s five largest districts now will have to publicly disclose their campaign contributions and expenses.
Gov. Susana Martinez signed a bill Thursday to increase scrutiny of candidates running in school districts with an enrollment of 12,000 or more.
The law will apply to the Albuquerque, Gadsden, Las Cruces, Rio Rancho and Santa Fe school districts. A sixth district, Gallup-McKinley, is close to the enrollment threshold of 12,000.
Republican Rep. Jim Smith, right, a teacher from Sandia Park, sponsored the bill. He said numerous school elections, especially in Albuquerque, had grown to five-figure campaigns.
Requiring candidates in large districts to disclose their contributions will enable the public to know who’s financing campaigns that have become pricey, Smith said.
Candidates who collect and spend $500 or less will be exempted from the reporting requirements.
School board races in most of New Mexico’s 89 districts will continue to be run without candidates having to account for contributions and expenses. About the half the state’s districts have fewer than 1,000 students.
The new campaign reporting law for school races goes into effect July 1.
NEW LAW ON CYBERBULLYING
Martinez also signed into law a bill to help protect students from bullying on the Internet.
Bucking many in her own Republican Party, Martinez supported the measure by Democratic Rep. Sheryl Williams Stapleton, right.
Fourteen Republican senators opposed the cyberbullying bill and only one, Mark Moores of Albuquerque, voted for it. Most Republican senators said the bill was redundant because school districts already have policies to stop bullying, no matter what the form.
Stapleton said students at Highland High School in her Albuquerque district asked her to carry the bill because the Internet has created new forms of intimidation.
A survey by the state Public Education Department found that about 13 percent of high school students said they were bullied electronically.
Cyberbullying “is its own animal,” said Democratic Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard, a teacher from Los Alamos.
The same survey found that more than 43 percent of middle school students and more than 18 percent of high school students said they had been bullied in the last year.