Gov. Martinez’s appointees in line to be confirmed may overwhelm process

After a year of high-profile changes in Gov. Susana Martinez’s Cabinet, top officials from several of the most important departments in state government now await Senate confirmation hearings. But the secretaries of environment, finance and health are just of a few of the governor’s nearly 100 appointees on the agenda. With the long list, it is unclear how many appointees will even get a vote before the Senate adjourns March 18. New Mexico’s financial crisis will make confirmation hearings more difficult than usual. Staff members say the Senate Rules Committee only has enough money to conduct background checks on about half the appointees.

NM gets new environment department head

Gov. Susana Martinez announced Butch Tongate as her choice to head the New Mexico Environment Department. Martinez made the announcement Monday in a press release. Tongate has worked as the deputy secretary of the Environment Department since 2011, when Martinez started her first term as governor. “I’m proud to have Butch take over the helm of the Environment Department,” Martinez said in a statement. “He’s been an integral part of our team since the beginning of the Administration, and the depth and breadth of his experience will be a strong asset as we continue protecting New Mexico’s environment in a balanced and responsible way.”

Tongate said he is “grateful for Governor Martinez’s leadership” and that he looks forward to “continuing to work with her to protect New Mexico’s environment.”

“We serve New Mexicans best when we take a sound and balanced approach to environmental policy—one that protects our air, water, and land, while at the same time allowing businesses to grow,” Tongate said.