On Wednesday, H.B. 80, sponsored by Rep. Greg Nibert (R-Chaves), passed through its first committee with vast bipartisan support. The bill would limit the New Mexico governor’s emergency powers to 90 days for a state of emergency, with intervention by the legislature.
The bill notes, “The special session called pursuant to Subsection A of this section shall convene no later than the ninetieth day after the initial declaration of the state of emergency.”
During the House Government, Elections, and Indian Affairs Committee hearing, Nibert noted how he had consistently worked on this bill for years, beginning in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic, when the governor commenced lockdowns via public health emergency orders. He noted how he has worked with former Rep. Daymon Ely (Sandoval, Bernalillo), who has been a longtime partner and co-sponsor on the bill.
All members of the public who testified on the bill signaled support for it, with no opposition whatsoever from the audience.
House Majority Leader Gail Chasey (D-Bernalillo) made the case in the committee that the legislature was not a co-equal branch of government with the governor and thus must first “modernize” before making any such change. Others argued that this is exactly how to strengthen the legislative branch while keeping both the governor and the legislature accountable.
On the motion to pass the bill, all members but Chasey supported advancing the legislation.
The votes in support included Chairwoman D. Wonda Johnson (D-McKinley and San Juan), Vice Chair Natalie Figueroa (D-Bernalillo), Rep. Martin Zamora (R-Curry, DeBaca, Guadalupe, Roosevelt, and San Miguel), Rep. Janelle Anyanonu (D-Bernalillo), Rep. John Block (R-Otero), Rep. Dayan Hochman-Vigil (D-Bernalill0), Rep. Charlotte Little (D-Bernalill0), and Rep. Bill Rehm (R-Bernalillo).