New Mexico Legislature Passes Senate Joint Resolution 1

On March 14, 2019, the New Mexico legislature passed Senate Joint Resolution 1 that, if approved by voters, would change the New Mexico Constitution to require appointed instead of elected Commissioners to the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission.  Under the resolution, commencing in January 1, 2023, the Commission shall consist of three members appointed by the Governor. The Governor shall nominate members from a list of qualified nominees submitted to the Governor by the public regulation commission nominating committee and by and with the consent of the Senate, with the provisions that no more than two commissioners shall be members of the same political party. Appointed members shall serve six-year staggered terms and may not serve more than two consecutive six-year terms. Provisions are in place to have initial first terms of shorter duration in order to provide for staggered terms. The resolution also requires that the legislature will have to pass a statute that provides for specific professional qualifications and continuing education requirements for commissioners.

Although the Senate Joint Resolution passed  both the New Mexico House and Senate with only minor opposition, concern was expressed by some opponents that large sections of rural New Mexico including tribal lands could end up being underrepresented due to the “at large” appointments. Others expressed concern about the Governor having the final say instead of having the electorate choosing the members from various regions of the state. The proposed constitutional amendment will be placed on the November 2020 general election ballot for voters to decide.