HOUSE JOINT MEMORIAL 1

54th legislature - STATE OF NEW MEXICO - second session, 2020

INTRODUCED BY

Daymon Ely

 

 

 

 

 

A JOINT MEMORIAL

REQUESTING THE NEW MEXICO LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL TO STUDY THE FEASIBILITY OF RECONFIGURING THE INTERIM COMMITTEE STRUCTURE, TO SET WORK PLANS AND SCHEDULES TO ALLOW FOR GREATER COORDINATION OF POLICY AND APPROPRIATION PRIORITIES AND TO PROVIDE A REPORT TO THE FIRST SESSION OF THE FIFTY-FIFTH LEGISLATURE FOR ITS CONSIDERATION IN RESTRUCTURING THE INTERIM COMMITTEES.

 

     WHEREAS, each year, the New Mexico legislative council appoints members to approximately two dozen interim committees and subcommittees that meet during the interim; and

     WHEREAS, each year, between May and December, there are approximately one hundred fifty business days in which well over two hundred committee meeting days are scheduled; and

     WHEREAS, interim committees review legislation for endorsement between mid-October and mid-December, some of which may require funding; and

     WHEREAS, there is little or no coordination between most interim committees' proposed or endorsed legislation and the appropriations that the legislative finance committee recommends for the subsequent session; and

     WHEREAS, a number of similar presentations are made before more than one committee, with executive and judicial branch departments and agencies often appearing before two, three or sometimes four committees to present and discuss the same issues with similar or identical material; and

     WHEREAS, in its 2007 final report, the legislative structure and process study task force stated that there is a "sense that interim committee work is less relevant to session work than it was years ago", and the task force noted that between 1979 and 2007, the number of interim committees doubled and the number of committees with ten or more voting members tripled; and

     WHEREAS, the task force noted that there is educational value in interim committee work but that the increased level of demand of the interim "dilutes the legislature's ability to make policy effectively by spreading the legislature's attention too broadly"; and

     WHEREAS, the task force recommended that the number of interim committees be limited to no more than twelve, including the legislative finance committee and the legislative education study committee, while keeping the New Mexico legislative council for administrative purposes and the interim legislative ethics committee and the committee on compacts because of the limited and special nature of those committees; and

     WHEREAS, the legislative structure and process study task force's recommendations for the interim structure twelve years ago stated:

Reconfigure the interim committee structure by limiting the number of interim committees to twelve, reduce the number of advisory members appointed to interim committees, coordinate staffing needs among the permanent staffs, respect the different sizes of the houses and increase the number of days members may be reimbursed for attending meetings of the committees to which they are not appointed; and

     WHEREAS, since the legislative structure and process study task force's recommendations, the number of committees has not decreased; the number of advisory members, based on fifteen comparable committees, has increased considerably, from about one hundred ninety-eight in 2007 to about two hundred forty-two in 2019; and the number of designees for the legislative finance committee has increased from twenty-six to forty-one; and

     WHEREAS, although members are now allowed to attend up to five meeting days of committees of which they are not members, a number of committees have nonetheless had to conduct business as special subcommittees where a quorum was lacking, and in some cases committees have lacked enough members for even a special subcommittee; and

     WHEREAS, the New Mexico legislature has traditionally been dependent on the strength of its interim and standing committees to make policy and appropriation decisions, while the relevance and effectiveness of interim committees is now in question as many members are unable to attend all of the meetings of committees to which they are appointed, and the culmination of a committee's work is usually reflected in endorsed legislation, which is seldom a consideration of the work done by the legislative finance committee, or vice versa; and

     WHEREAS, the lack of a coordinated legislative structure in setting the state's policy and appropriation priorities during the interim, as well as the number of committees, meeting days and advisory members, dilutes the effectiveness of the state legislature;

     NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF NEW MEXICO that the New Mexico legislative council be requested to study the interim committee structure to be reconfigured by limiting the number of interim committees to twelve, reducing the number of advisory members appointed to interim committees and increasing the number of days members may be reimbursed for attending meetings of committees to which they were not appointed; and

     BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the interim and statutory interim committees be requested to set their work plans and schedules to allow for greater coordination of policy and appropriation priorities; and

     BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the New Mexico legislative council be requested to consider making these changes to the interim committee structure, including limitations on or temporary suspensions of statutory committees, and that the New Mexico legislative council provide a report to the first session of the fifty-fifth legislature for its consideration in restructuring the interim committees; and

     BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that copies of this memorial be transmitted to the co-chairs of the New Mexico legislative council and the director of the legislative council service.

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