January 26, 2015

An early look at committees under new House majority

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Roundhouse

The public received an early look at how Republicans will run committees on Monday.

Republicans of the New Mexico House started the 2015 Legislative Session with a goal to streamline the legislative process. House Majority Leader, Nate Gentry, R-Albuquerque, told the House Rules Committee that a restructuring of committees was an attempt to create a more efficient committee process and legislative session.

Some House committees met for the first time Monday in order to lay out ground rules and expectations. These meetings are known as organizational meetings and usually consist of member introductions and a word from the chair on how the committee will be run.

This morning Rep. Candy Spence Ezzell, R-Roswell, who chairs the Agricultural Water Resources and Wildlife Committee, went through her ideas on how the committee should run. In her opening remarks, the chairwoman referred to it as the “AWW committee.”

A new aspect to the committee process she brought up is a sign-up sheet for audience members attending the meeting.  Ezzell told committee members the sheet would be included in the meetings minutes.

She emphasized that meetings will start on time, something House Republicans have publicly set as a goal this session.

The rest of the meeting proceeded as usual, with members introducing themselves and giving some information on their background. Ezzell, a ranch owner, spoke about the importance of including agricultural voices in committee meetings.

“Food doesn’t come from the grocery store, someone has to produce that food,” Ezzell said.

This committee along with others garnered criticism from House Democrats because of the way certain subjects are lumped together.

Democrats raised concerns that agricultural issues would be heard alongside wildlife issues, saying that the two are diametrically opposed interests. Republicans contended that the two issues need to be heard together because they are indeed related.

Rep. Paul Bandy, R-Aztec, echoed that sentiment during his introduction.

“Sometimes things are opposed when they don’t need to be opposed,” Bandy stated. “People make a living opposing things.”

Another process that Ezzell said will help speed up the committee process is pushing through what she said are “non-controversial bills”. She said with the approval of the committee, bills that would not elicit debate could get expedited out of the committee.

The Agriculture, Water Resources and Wildlife Committee will meet on Wednesday, but will not hear any bills until Friday.

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