The Roundhouse in Santa Fe in September 2022 (Photo by Shaun Griswold / Source NM)
A New Mexico state senator is facing ouster from a prominent legislative role.
Public calls to remove Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto (D-Albuquerque) from office altogether started in the spring when he was accused of sexual harassment and misconduct by lobbyist Marianna Anaya.
So far, Senate leadership is committed to pulling Ivey-Soto from the chairman position of the powerful Senate Rules Committee, according to Senate Pro Tem Mimi Stewart (D-Albuquerque), and will make an attempt to start the process on Thursday. It will still take a full Senate roll call or voice vote when the body meets in January to remove Ivey-Soto from this role.
“We must send a clear signal that inappropriate behavior will not be tolerated, and the Roundhouse will be a welcoming, safe environment for all people who engage in the legislative process,” Stewart said in a statement.
Over the weekend, Stewart removed Ivey-Soto from his leadership position on one interim committee.
Shortly after, she called for another committee to meet and vote on whether he should be removed from his position as chair of the Senate Rules Committee, which often determines where proposed measures fall on the agenda of NM’s short legislative sessions. This committee that Ivey-Soto chairs would also likely be responsible for how lawmakers reform the anti-harassment policy he was just subject to.
The Senate Committees Committee, which Stewart leads, handles assignments and is scheduled to meet Thursday at 4 p.m. at the Capitol in Santa Fe. The meeting in room 321 of the Roundhouse is open to the public.
The only agenda item: Senate Rules assignments.
Votes by the 11-member panel should be public, marking the first visible legislative vote about Ivey-Soto. Anaya’s complaint went through the Roundhouse anti-harassment process, an internal review beyond the public’s view.
Reform proposals for the proceedings are shaping up along two avenues. First, changes in policy adding an outside tie-breaker vote option and investigation deadlines are being weighed by another interim legislative panel. Those reforms can happen immediately, but lawmakers postponed decision-making until Oct. 11.
Second, alterations to state statute to improve transparency and oversight could only happen as part of the normal legislative process in January.
“We cannot count on the Legislature to keep us safe while he remains in the Senate,” Lan Sena, director of the Center for Civic Policy said Monday at the Roundhouse. “His dangerous behavior has been left unchecked for far too long. He should not be allowed to be in this building.”
Stewart said she wants victims of sexual harassment to know they will be heard and treated with respect, even if they’re bringing allegations about a sitting legislator.
“It’s incumbent upon us to tear down the barriers that have too often kept victims of sexual harassment from reporting on their abusers,” she said.
This story was updated on Wednesday, Sept. 28, at 4:40 p.m. to reflect that decisions made in committee this week about Ivey-Soto’s position on Senate Rules will still have to go before the full Senate for a vote in January.
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