Joseph Carraro represented legislative district 23 in the New Mexico State Senate until 2009. His district includes outlying areas of Albuquerque and Rio Rancho. He makes a living as a business consultant.
Carraro's transparency advocacy focuses on reforming conference committee rules. Conference committees are formed when the House of Representatives and the Senate disagree on certain aspects of any legislation. Legislators from both Houses are called together in these committees to come to an agreement. Currently, the conference committee meetings are held behind closed doors, without public participation or observation.
A conference committee is convened every year to produce a state budget for the Governor's approval. During this process, bills are accepted, modified, or cut completely from receiving budget appropriations. Conference committee members must compromise many of the bills introduced by their fellow House legislators in order to generate a budget both Houses can agree upon.
During 2008's 30-day legislative session, Carraro introduced Senate Bill 205, which would've required the conference committee meetings to be open to public observation. It would've also required that the public be given "reasonable notice of meetings." However, the "Senate Committees' Committee," which is responsible for determining whether or not introduced legislation is relevant to the Governor's legislative proposals during 30-day sessions, postponed the bill indefinitely.
In 2007, Carraro introduced a similar bill, Senate Bill 322, also intended to make conference committee meetings open to the public. The bill passed through the Senate Rules Committee, the Senate Public Affairs Committee, and was sent to the Senate floor where it passed by a 19-18 vote. However, according to the Chief Clerk of the Senate's Office, Senator May Kay Papen of Dona Ana County, who initially voted for the bill, made a motion to reconsider which resulted in a new vote being taken. Four additional Senators participated in the second count and the bill failed, 20-21.