Categories
Legal New Mexico Top Issues Updates

SPPI Files Lawsuit Against New Mexico Department of Taxation and Revenue

A failure to acknowledge a request to inspect records by a government body is equivalent to an improper denial.

Rio Rancho, NM – The Southwest Public Policy Institute (SPPI) announced today that a lawsuit was filed on behalf of the Institute against the New Mexico Department of Taxation and Revenue (NMTRD) for failure to produce responsive records from an Inspection of Public Records Act (IPRA) request.

The initial request requested registration data for electric vehicles in the state. Under Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s electric vehicle efforts, SPPI seeks to calculate the corresponding total cost of adoption.

The original request for aggregate reporting was denied. 

The official response from NMTRD was that no such record exists and that IPRA cannot compel a government body to create a record.

As part of its ongoing mission to educate the public and create better living through better policy in the American Southwest, SPPI requested aggregate reports from NMTRD related to the number of registered vehicles in New Mexico with engine cylinder counts as “0” or zero.

All-electric vehicles manufactured by companies like Tesla do not have internal combustion engines and notate an engine cylinder count of zero on all vehicle registration certificates. 

As part of a more extensive program to determine the approximate cost of electric vehicle adoption in New Mexico, this aggregate vehicle count of currently registered electric vehicles can be compared against the total number of registrations.

From these two figures, the number of vehicles requiring replacement. 

A separate request for records was submitted, requesting the entire database used by the state to manage vehicle registrations. This request went unanswered, constituting an improper denial. 

From the New Mexico Attorney General’s IPRA compliance guide:

“A citizen has a fundamental right to have access to public records. The citizen’s right to know is the rule, and secrecy is the exception. Where there is no contrary statute…, the right to inspect public records must be freely allowed.”

Through its counsel, Jordon P. George of Aragon Moss George Jenkins, LLP, SPPI alleges willful or deliberately indifferent failure by NMTRD to provide a complete and timely response to SPPI’s public records request. 

SPPI seeks an order from District Court Judge Bryan Biedscheid requiring NMTRD to produce all materials responsive to SPPI’s records request.

Patrick Brenner, founder and president of the Southwest Public Policy Institute expressed concern at the lack of transparency being displayed by the New Mexico Department of Taxation and Revenue.

“The New Mexico Taxation and Revenue Department is the parent agency of the Motor Vehicle Division, and a failure to acknowledge a request to inspect records by either agency is equivalent to an improper denial,” Brenner stated.

The case number is D-101-CV-202201747 and was filed on September 16, 2022.

“The database exists, is a public record, and NMTRD is obligated to provide an opportunity to inspect such records, which they have failed to do. We are confident that Judge Biedscheid will issue a favorable ruling quickly,” Brenner continued.

For more information about the Southwest Public Policy Institute, please visit southwestpolicy.com or contact us via email at [email protected].

By Patrick M. Brenner

Patrick Brenner is the founder and president of the Southwest Public Policy Institute, a limited-government research institute and think tank focused on the southwestern United States. An advocate for open government, he leads the institute's government transparency and accountability efforts.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.