Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham appointed a fifth member to the New Mexico Game Commission on Friday.
She announced the appointment of car salesman Edward Garcia in a press release. He is the executive chairman of the Garcia Automotive Family Dealerships, which have locations in Santa Fe, Albuquerque and El Paso, Texas.
Garcia is an outdoorsman who enjoys hiking and fly fishing along the Pecos River in San Miguel County. His appointment comes amid discussions at the Legislature of changing the appointment process for the Game Commission so that four of the seven members are appointed by the Legislative Council rather than the governor.
Garcia is the second appointment that Lujan Grisham has made since the commission chairwoman resigned in February, which left the commission with too few members to form a quorum to meet.
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham appointed a wildlife biologist to serve as an at-large member of the New Mexico Game Commission, bringing the number of commissioners up to four.
Fernando Clemente Jr., who has owned and operated the New Mexico Specialized Wildlife Services since 2012, became the newest commissioner on Tuesday. His Sunland Park-based organization was established to “maintain sustainable wildlife populations found in private and public lands with the intention on (sic) creating new hunting opportunities for present and future generations,” according to its website. Clemente has more than 20 years of “expertise and experience across multiple branches of natural resource management,” a press release from the governor’s office states. He received a bachelor of science degree in wildlife biology and management from New Mexico State University. In addition to operating the wildlife services organization, Clemente has worked as a professor at La Universidad Autónoma de Chihuahua since 2021 and as president of the Sandia Park Chamber of Commerce since 2019.
Clemente is also the president of La Clinica de Familia’s board of directors.
The House of Representatives passed a bill on Friday that would change the appointment process and requirements for New Mexico Game Commissioners. HB 184, sponsored by Rep. Matthew McQueen, D-Galisteo, passed on a 45-21 vote. The bill would have some of the seven members appointed by the Legislative Council rather than the governor. The governor would be able to appoint three people—one from each Congressional district. The Legislative Council would appoint a conservationist, a farmer or rancher and a hunter or angler as well as a scientist.
HB 184 would also only allow the commissioners to be removed for cause.
By Nathan Brown, The Santa Fe New Mexican
Two bills to make big changes to wildlife management in New Mexico got their first hearing in a House committee Saturday. House Bill 183, which would abolish the Game and Fish Department and turn it into a division within the Energy, Mineral and Natural Resources Department, stalled on a 5-5 vote, with one Democrat joining the Republicans to oppose it. However, House Bill 184, which would change the way seats are allocated on the State Game Commission by getting rid of the current system of districts and creating seats for specific groups such as conservationists and hunters, made it out of the Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Committee on a 6-3 vote. Committee Chairman Rep. Matthew McQueen, D-Galisteo, is sponsoring both bills. He and other supporters pitched them as measures to create a better-run and less politicized department.
Legislation to reform hunting regulations and wildlife management in New Mexico stalled in the Senate Conservation Committee on Saturday. Senate Bill 312 appears doomed for this session after members tied 4-4 on a vote to reconsider debate and vote on the legislation in the absence of Sen. Joe Cervantes, a Las Cruces Democrat who serves on the committee.
A vote earlier in the week also resulted in a tie. “Right now it just seems like there is a stalemate in the committee,” said Sen. Liz Stefanics, a Cerrillos Democrat who chairs the committee. Currently, 84 percent of hunting tags go to residents, 10 percent are set aside for outfitters and 6 percent go to nonresidents. Under the bill, which is sponsored by Rep. Nathan Small and Sen. Jeff Steinborn, both Las Cruces Democrats, 90 percent would be reserved for residents and the rest for out-of-state hunters with none for outfitters.
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.