Home News Local News Speaker nixes proposal to limit governor’s powers

Speaker nixes proposal to limit governor’s powers

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AP Photo In this file photo, preparations are made at the New Mexico Senate chamber as state lawmakers trickle into the Statehouse on Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021, the first day of a legislative session. The Legislature convened Monday to forge district boundaries for three congressional districts and 112 seats in the state Legislature, along with a Public Education Commission that oversees charter schools.

Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

Legislation and a proposed state constitutional amendment to restrict the governor’s emergency powers will not be among bills considered in the current special legislative session.
When members of the New Mexico House of Representatives gathered Monday to introduce legislation, House Speaker Brian Egolf ruled that House Bill 10 (HB 10) and House Joint Resolution 1 (HJR 1) were “not germane” to the items outlined in the governor’s message calling the special session and therefore would not be assigned to a legislative committee for further discussion.
Both items were introduced by state Reps. Greg Nibert, R-Roswell, and Daymon Ely, D-Corales.
Under House Bill 10 (HB 10) all emergency declarations or emergency public health orders issued by a governor would end after 90 days, unless a governor called a special session for a 60-day extension of that order. HJR 1 would send to the voters a proposed constitutional amendment that if approved by voters, would enshrine the process outlined in HB 10 into the state constitution.
Egolf, in announcing the decision, explained that Section 6, Article 4 of the state constitution stipulates that no business will be transacted by the Legislature except for the objects mentioned in the governor’s proclamation calling the special session.
The current special session was called to redraw the state’s political maps and approve a spending plan for $1.1 billion in federal COVID-19 relief aid.
Nibert asked the speaker if, since HJR 1 is not legislation but a proposed constitutional amendment, it should still be referred to a committee.
“Constitutional amendments are germane in a 30-day special session without a message from the governor, but not special sessions,” he said.
Nibert then indicated that he plans to introduce the proposed constitutional amendment again when the Legislature meets in January.
“Thank you, Mr. Speaker, then I guess we will see that in January,” Nibert said.
In an interview Friday with the Roswell Daily Record, Nibert said he planned to introduce both the legislation and proposed constitutional amendment, but believed the speaker would find them not to be germane.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Nibert has called for the governor’s emergency powers to be curtailed and the Legislature to have more of a role in protracted emergencies.
Nibert and Ely initially introduced the legislation and proposed constitutional amendment during the regular session earlier this year.
Though it passed some committees during the regular session, it stalled following opposition from those who say the state’s all volunteer legislature lacks the structure to respond to an emergency such as the pandemic.
Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or at breakingnews@rdrnews.com.

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