The resolution would allow lawmakers to keep emails and other documents hidden from public scrutiny.
House Concurrent Resolution 1 was introduced just 10 days ago. It passed in the House of Representatives on a 48-16 vote on Sunday and is headed to the Senate for final approval. It does not need the governor's signature to be enacted.
Rep. Tom Taylor, R-Farmington, voted in favor of the resolution. He could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.
Sen. William Sharer, R-Farmington, could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.
"This is a little bit weird, it's not a bill that would change a law, it's a change in the way the legislature operates," said Gwyneth Doland, executive director for the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government. "This is a sneaky, last minute maneuver that both the (New Mexico) Attorney General and the legal experts at the Foundation for Open Government say can't be used to hide lawmakers' emails from the public."
For Doland, the resolution clearly violates the spirit of the state's open records law.
"The law is clear — records dealing with the business of government are open to the people," she said. "This is an unusual move that flies in the face of established law."
While the resolution changes no laws, it shows legislators' intent to keep emails and other documents secret, she said. And,
"There will be lawsuits that will take up tax dollars," Doland said. "Someone is going to sue for those emails."
The resolution says that the legislature exercises, "authority collectively and not through the actions of individual members," and concludes that it is entitled to the "privileges and immunities afforded by Article 4, Section 13," of the state constitution.
Whether the section of the constitution allows lawmakers to shield documents and email communications from open records requests is contested.
The state legislature's email resolution has Farmington City Councilman Jason Sandel worried.
City council passed its own resolution requiring that all of Farmington's elected officials have a city issued email account.
Debate over city email addresses arose out of a dispute between Councilwoman Mary Fischer and Mayor Tommy Roberts.
The resolution passed Tuesday evening on a 3-2 vote with Sandel and Fischer voting no, and Roberts breaking the tie in its favor.
"I'm one that believes if you're conducting official business, that information needs to be available to the public," Sandel said in a Wednesday phone interview.
For Sandel, Tuesday's resolution leaves too much ambiguity regarding the city's policy toward email and open records requests.
"My intent is to further clarify the resolution," he said. "I believe, and plan on asserting that (city) policy is that those emails are open to the public."
Roberts could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.
Greg Yee may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; 564-4606. Follow him on Twitter @GYeeDT