February 16, 2023

Legislation to limit governor’s emergency powers die in committee

The House Judiciary Committee tabled two pieces of legislation related to terminating states of emergency on Wednesday.

Both HB 80 and HJR 3 sought to terminate states of emergency after 90 days unless the legislature is called into special session to address the circumstances of the state of emergency.

“They are two pieces of legislation that I have worked on since about May of 2020 and have worked on in the language that’s before you and both pieces of legislation are the words that former Rep. Daymon Ely, D-Corrales, and I negotiated,” bill co-sponsor Rep. Greg Nibert, R-Roswell, said. “I bring before you these pieces of legislation because I feel strongly about the separation of powers.”

Committee member Rep. Matthew McQueen, D-Galisteo, asked about the legislature’s current constitutional power to call itself into extraordinary session by a three-fifth supermajority.

“What I don’t understand is why we need this. We can call ourselves in the session whenever enough of us— which is 60 percent. It’s not a huge supermajority,  it’s not two thirds— feel it’s necessary. We could have done that at any point during the pandemic. We did not,” McQueen said.

Both pieces of legislation were tabled on a party line 7-4 vote, which essentially means they died in committee.

HJR 3 would have sought to place the limits in the state constitution and would have required approval from voters.

Both pieces of legislation were heard by the House Government, Elections and Indian Affairs Committee where they both passed, but not evenly.

HB 80 passed on an 8-1 vote with House Floor Leader Rep. Gail Chasey, D-Albuquerque, as the sole vote against.

HJR 3 passed the HGEIAC on a 5-4 vote with Chasey, Rep. Janelle Anyanonu, D-Albuquerque, Rep. Dayan Hochman-Vigil, D-Los Ranchos, and Rep. Charlotte Little, D-Albuquerque.