January 21, 2015

New House majority names committee chairs

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Roundhouse RotundaThe new committees aren’t quite official yet, but the new Speaker of the House named the incoming committee chairs today in a press release to the media.

“I am proud to appoint such a qualified group of legislators to chair our committees,” Speaker Don Tripp, R-Socorro, said in a statement. “Each of them has the experience and background to lead their respective committees and I have expressed my expectation that they treat the people who come to Santa Fe to testify on legislation with the respect they deserve.”

Tripp and the new House majority are working to overhaul the committees, a process that will likely be finalized Thursday on the House floor, despite widespread Democratic opposition.

Republicans now hold a 37-33 advantage in the House, the same advantage that Democrats had in the 2014 legislative session.

Another interesting announcement will be the full committee memberships. Tripp has indicated to the Albuquerque Journal that some former committee chairs would be assigned to committees not related to their previous leadership position.

Tripp also said there may be cases in which Democrats who formerly chaired committees would no longer be on those committees. His explanation: longtime committee staffers must work with the new GOP chairs and should not be distracted by their loyalties to their former bosses.

Minority Leader Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe, had another explanation. He said at a press conference earlier this week that he was told “some members of the Republican Party who may end up being chairs have told Representative Tripp that they don’t want some members on their committee.”

Here are the new committee chairs:

Agriculture, Water and Wildlife: Candy Spence Ezzell
Appropriations and Finance: Larry Larrañaga
Business and Employment: Jane Powdrell-Culbert
Education: Nora Espinoza
Energy, Environment and Natural Resources: James Strickler
Government, Elections and Indian Affairs: James Smith
Health: Terry McMillan
Judiciary: Zachary Cook
Regulatory and Public Affairs: Yvette Herrell
Safety and Civil Affairs: William Rehm
Transportation and Public Works: Cathrynn Brown
Ways and Means: Jason Harper
Rules and Order of Business: Paul Bandy