HOUSE BILL 183
56th legislature - STATE OF NEW MEXICO - first session, 2023
RELATING TO GOVERNMENT REORGANIZATION; MOVING THE DEPARTMENT OF GAME AND FISH TO THE ENERGY, MINERALS AND NATURAL RESOURCES DEPARTMENT AS A DIVISION; REPLACING THE STATE GAME COMMISSION WITH THE GAME ADVISORY BOARD AND ADMINISTRATIVELY ATTACHING THE BOARD TO THE GAME AND FISH DIVISION; REASSIGNING RULEMAKING TO THE GAME AND FISH DIVISION; PROVIDING FOR TRANSFERS OF FUNCTIONS, PERSONNEL, APPROPRIATIONS, MONEY, PROPERTY, CONTRACTUAL OBLIGATIONS, STATUTORY REFERENCES AND RULEMAKING FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF GAME AND FISH AND THE STATE GAME COMMISSION TO THE GAME AND FISH DIVISION.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF NEW MEXICO:
SECTION 1. Section 9-5A-2 NMSA 1978 (being Laws 1987, Chapter 234, Section 2) is amended to read:
"9-5A-2. PURPOSE.--The purpose of the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department Act is to establish a single, unified department to administer laws and exercise functions formerly administered and exercised by the energy and minerals department, [and] the natural resources department and the department of game and fish."
SECTION 2. Section 9-5A-3 NMSA 1978 (being Laws 1987, Chapter 234, Section 3, as amended by Laws 1997, Chapter 137, Section 1 and also by Laws 1997, Chapter 149, Section 2) is amended to read:
"9-5A-3. DEPARTMENT ESTABLISHED.--
A. [There is created in the executive branch] The "energy, minerals and natural resources department" is created in the executive branch. The department [shall be] is a cabinet department and [shall include but not be limited to] includes the following organizational units:
(1) the administrative services division;
(2) the state parks division;
(3) the forestry division;
(4) the game and fish division;
[(4)] (5) the energy conservation and management division;
[(5)] (6) the mining and minerals division; and
[(6)] (7) the oil conservation division.
B. The [state] game [commission] advisory board is administratively attached to the [department] game and fish division."
SECTION 3. Section 9-5A-4 NMSA 1978 (being Laws 1987, Chapter 234, Section 4, as amended by Laws 2016, Chapter 71, Section 12 and by Laws 2016, Chapter 78, Section 12) is amended to read:
"9-5A-4. DIVISIONS--DUTIES.--In addition to the duties assigned to each division of the energy, minerals and natural resources department by the secretary of energy, minerals and natural resources:
A. the administrative services division shall provide clerical, recordkeeping and administrative support to the department in the areas of personnel, budget, procurement and contracting;
B. the energy conservation and management division shall plan, administer, review, provide technical assistance, maintain records, monitor state and federal energy conservation and alternative energy technology programs and administer laws and [regulations] rules relating to geothermal resources;
C. the forestry division shall enforce and administer laws and [regulations] rules relating to forestry on lands within the state;
D. the mining and minerals division shall enforce and administer laws and [regulations] rules relating to mine safety, coal surface mine reclamation and abandoned mine lands reclamation;
E. the oil conservation division shall administer laws and [regulations] rules relating to oil and gas resources, except those laws specifically administered by another authority; [and]
F. the state parks division shall develop, maintain, manage and supervise all state parks and state-owned or state-leased recreation areas; and
G. the game and fish division shall administer and enforce the laws and rules relating to hunting, fishing, management and protection of wildlife, issuance of hunting and fishing licenses and permits and other provisions of Chapter 17 NMSA 1978 or other laws for which the division is statutorily or administratively charged with administering and enforcing."
SECTION 4. Section 17-2A-1 NMSA 1978 (being Laws 1996, Chapter 89, Section 3) is recompiled as Section 17-1-1.1 NMSA 1978 and is amended to read:
"17-1-1.1. DEFINITIONS.--For the purposes of Chapter 17 NMSA 1978:
A. "hunt code" means a description used to identify and define the species, weapon type and time frame authorized for a specific hunt;
B. "outfitter" or "guide" means a person who advertises or holds [himself] the person's self out to the public for hire or is employed or accepts compensation for providing, within the unit where a hunt occurs, facilities, equipment or services for hunting activities; provided, however, that "outfitter" or "guide" does not include a person who only cooks, cuts wood or performs other comparable or incidental duties not directly related to hunting activities; [and]
C. "state game commission", "commission", "department of game and fish", "department" or "division" means the game and fish division of the energy, minerals and natural resources department; and
[C.] D. "unit" means a geographically bound area in the state that is used to manage game species."
SECTION 5. Section 17-1-2 NMSA 1978 (being Laws 1921, Chapter 35, Section 2, as amended) is amended to read:
"17-1-2. [STATE] GAME [COMMISSION] ADVISORY BOARD--APPOINTMENT--TERM.--[To carry out the purpose of Chapter 17 NMSA 1978 and all other acts for like purpose, there is created a "state]
A. The "game [commission] advisory board" is created. The board consists of seven members, not more than four of whom shall be of the same political party at the time of their appointment. The members of the [commission] board shall be appointed by the governor [with the advice and consent of the senate]. The term of office for each member of the [commission] board shall be four years. At the time of making the first appointments, the governor shall designate the [commissioners'] board members' terms as being one, two, three or four years so that the term of no more than two [commissioners] board members shall expire each year.
B. In making appointments to the [state game commission] board, one member shall be appointed from each of the following districts:
[A.] (1) district one: Curry, De Baca, Roosevelt, Chaves, Lincoln, Otero, Eddy and Lea counties;
[B.] (2) district two: Catron, Socorro, Grant, Hidalgo, Luna, Sierra and Dona Ana counties;
[C.] (3) district three: San Juan, McKinley, Cibola, Valencia, Sandoval, Los Alamos and Rio Arriba counties;
[D.] (4) district four: Santa Fe, Taos, Colfax, Union, Mora, Harding, Quay, San Miguel, Guadalupe and Torrance counties; and
[E.] (5) district five: Bernalillo county.
The remaining two members shall be appointed at-large.
C. At least one member of the [commission] board shall manage and operate a farm or ranch that contains at least two species of wildlife on that part [which] that is deeded land requiring licensing prior to legal pursuit under the provisions of Section 17-3-2 NMSA 1978. At least one member shall have a demonstrated history of involvement in wildlife and habitat protection issues and whose activities or occupation are not in conflict with wildlife and habitat advocacy. [The state game commission as provided in Chapter 17 NMSA 1978 shall have the same authority, powers and duties as now vested in the state game commission by law, and]
D. Each member of the [state game commission] game advisory board shall serve until [his] a successor has been appointed and qualified."
SECTION 6. Section 17-1-4 NMSA 1978 (being Laws 1921, Chapter 35, Section 4) is amended to read:
"17-1-4. GAME ADVISORY BOARD ORGANIZATION--OFFICERS--MEETINGS--STAFF ASSISTANCE--DUTIES.--[Within sixty days after this Act shall take effect, the state game commission shall meet at the capitol and]
A. The game advisory board shall organize by electing from its membership a [chairman, and thereafter] chair and vice chair. The board shall hold at least one meeting [shall be held] annually and others at the call of [the governor or] the chair, a majority of the [commission] board members or the request of the director of the division. The [State Game Warden shall be secretary of] division shall provide staff assistance to the [commission] board.
B. The board shall advise the division on matters pertaining to the division's powers and duties enumerated in Section 17-1-14 NMSA 1978, the Game and Fish Bond Act or elsewhere in Chapter 17 NMSA 1978 or other provisions of law and shall assist the division with short- and long-range planning for wildlife conservation; habitat acquisition, development and improvement; fish hatchery and rearing facility improvements; other capital improvements; and license and permit system improvements."
SECTION 7. Section 17-1-5 NMSA 1978 (being Laws 1931, Chapter 117, Section 5, as amended) is amended to read:
"17-1-5. EMPLOYMENT AND DISCHARGE OF DIRECTOR AND OTHER EMPLOYEES--[DEPARTMENT OF] GAME AND FISH [CREATED] DIVISION.--
A. The [state game commission] secretary of energy, minerals and natural resources shall employ a director [who shall under such authorization that the game commission shall approve employ] of the game and fish division and such conservation officers, clerks and other employees as [he shall deem proper and] necessary to enforce and administer the laws and [regulations] rules relating to game and fish [and who shall prescribe their duties respectively, and who with the advice and consent of the state game commission shall fix the compensation of all the employees of the "department of game and fish", which is hereby created].
B. [The state game commission may at any time discharge the director for reasons that the state game commission shall deem sufficient.] The director may dismiss employees in accordance with the provisions of the Personnel Act."
SECTION 8. Section 17-1-5.1 NMSA 1978 (being Laws 1994, Chapter 129, Section 1) is amended to read:
"17-1-5.1. CONSERVATION SERVICES [DIVISION] BUREAU--DUTIES.--
A. The "conservation services [division] bureau" is created within the [department of] game and fish division.
B. The conservation services [division] bureau is responsible for:
(1) management, enhancement, research and conservation of public wildlife habitat;
(2) the lease, purchase, enhancement and management of state wildlife habitat;
(3) assisting landowners in improving wildlife habitats;
(4) development of educational programs related to conservation of wildlife and the environment, including the expanded dissemination of wildlife publications; and
(5) communication and consultation with federal and other state agencies, local governments and communities, private organizations and affected interests responsible for habitat, wilderness, recreation, water quality and environmental protection to ensure comprehensive conservation services for hunters, anglers and nonconsumptive wildlife users."
SECTION 9. Section 17-1-6 NMSA 1978 (being Laws 1955, Chapter 59, Section 2) is amended to read:
"17-1-6. TRANSFER OF DUTIES AND OBLIGATIONS.--The director of the game and fish division shall fulfill all the duties and obligations [heretofore] that had been imposed upon the department of game and fish, the state game commission or the state game warden and shall exercise all the powers [heretofore] that were granted to the director of the department of game and fish, the state game commission or the state game warden. The conservation officers appointed by the director shall assume those duties and powers [heretofore] that had been imposed upon or granted to conservation officers or deputy game wardens prior to enactment of this 2023 act."
SECTION 10. Section 17-1-14 NMSA 1978 (being Laws 1921, Chapter 35, Section 7, as amended) is amended to read:
"17-1-14. GENERAL POWERS [AND DUTIES] OF [STATE GAME
COMMISSION] DIVISION--GAME PROTECTION FUND--LIABILITY SUSPENSE ACCOUNT--ACTIVITIES IN CLOSED AREAS--CRIME.--
A. The [state game commission] division shall have general control over the collection and disbursement of all money collected or received under [the] state laws for the protection and propagation of game and fish, which money shall be paid over to the state treasurer to the credit of the nonreverting "game protection fund", unless otherwise provided by law for deposit in other funds of the division to carry out the purposes of Chapter 17 NMSA 1978, and the fund, including all earned income, shall not be transferred to another fund. Prior to depositing money into the game protection fund, the [department of game and fish] division shall ensure that an amount adequate to cover the cost of refunds allowed by the provisions of Chapter 17 NMSA 1978 is held in a liability suspense account. All refunds shall be made from the liability suspense account. Money not needed to cover the cost of refunds shall be deposited in the game protection fund at the end of each month. Chapter 17 NMSA 1978 shall be guaranty to the person who pays for hunting and fishing licenses and permits that the money in that fund shall not be used for any purpose other than as provided in Chapter 17 NMSA 1978.
B. The [state game commission shall have authority to] division may:
(1) establish and [through the director of the department of game and fish, to] operate fish hatcheries [for the purpose of stocking] to stock public waters of the state and to furnish fish fry and fingerlings to stock private waters, receipts from such sources to go into the game protection fund;
(2) declare closed seasons in any specified locality and on any species of game or fish threatened with undue depletion from any cause;
(3) establish game refuges [for the purpose of providing] to provide safe sanctuaries in which game may breed and replenish adjacent hunting ranges, it being the purpose of this provision to establish small refuges rather than large preserves or to close large areas to hunting;
(4) purchase lands for game refuges where suitable public lands do not exist, [to] purchase lands for fish hatcheries and [to] purchase lands to be maintained perpetually as public hunting grounds, particularly lands suitable for waterfowl hunting, all such lands to be paid for from the game protection fund or game and fish bond proceeds;
(5) receive by gift or bequest, in the name and on behalf of the state, lands suitable for game refuges, hunting grounds, fish hatcheries or for any other purpose necessary to carry out the provisions of Chapter 17 NMSA 1978;
(6) apply for and accept any state, federal or private funds, grants or donations from any source for game and fish programs and projects;
(7) designate certain areas as rest grounds for migratory birds, in which hunting [shall be] is forbidden at all times or at such times as the [state game commission] division shall provide, it being the purpose of this provision not to interfere unduly with the hunting of waterfowl but to provide havens in which they can rest and feed without molestation;
(8) close any public stream or lake or portion [thereof] of a public stream or lake to fishing when such action is necessary to protect a recently stocked water, to protect spawning waters or to prevent undue depletion of the fish;
(9) propagate, capture, purchase, transport or sell any species of game or fish needed for restocking any lands or streams of the state;
(10) after reasonable notice and hearing, suspend or revoke any license or permit issued pursuant to the provisions of Chapter 17 NMSA 1978 and withhold license privileges from any person procuring a license through misrepresentation, violating any provisions of Chapter 17 NMSA 1978 or hunting without a proper license;
(11) adopt rules establishing procedures that provide reasonable notice and a hearing before the [state game commission] director of the division or the director's designee for the suspension, revocation or withholding of license privileges for a definite period of time for a person charged with violating the provisions of Chapter 17 NMSA 1978, subject to such judicial review as may be provided by law;
(12) conduct studies of programs for the management of endangered and nongame species of wildlife;
(13) establish licenses, permits and certificates not otherwise provided for in Section 17-3-13 NMSA 1978 and charge and collect just and reasonable fees for them; provided the fees shall not exceed the costs of administration associated with the licenses, permits or certificates;
(14) permit, regulate or prohibit the commercial taking or capturing of native, free-ranging amphibians or reptiles not specifically protected by law, except for rattlesnake roundups, collection of fish bait and lizard races;
(15) adopt rules to control, eradicate or prevent the spread of a contagious disease, pest or parasite, including chronic wasting disease, to or among game animals. The rules shall include provisions for:
(a) notification to the [department of game and fish] game advisory board of the diagnosis or suspected presence of a contagious disease;
(b) examination by the state veterinarian or the state veterinarian's designee of suspected infected game animals;
(c) quarantine, treatment or destruction of an infected game animal;
(d) disinfection and isolation of a licensed private park where an infected game animal has been; and
(e) indemnification and destruction of a protected game animal;
(16) as necessary, designate areas of the state in which bear-proof garbage containers are required on public and private lands to reduce potential human-bear interactions;
(17) pursuant to appropriation by the legislature, expend money from the game protection fund and the habitat management fund for the improvement, maintenance, development and operation of property for fish and wildlife habitat management; and
(18) adopt rules to recruit, train and accept the services of volunteers for education and outreach activities, hunter and angler services and wildlife conservation activities administered by the [department of game and fish] division; provided that a volunteer:
(a) shall comply with all [policies and procedures of the director of the department of game and fish] rules of the division; and
(b) shall not be deemed to be a state employee and shall not be subject to the provisions of law relating to state employment, including those relating to hours of work, rates of compensation, leave, unemployment compensation and state employee benefits.
C. The director of the [department of game and fish] division shall exercise all the powers and duties conferred upon the state game and fish warden, the state game commission or the department of game and fish by all [previous] statutes [now] in force that are not in conflict with Chapter 17 NMSA 1978.
D. The [state game commission shall have] division has the authority to prohibit all hunting in periods of extreme forest fire danger at such times and places as may be necessary to reduce the danger of destructive forest fires.
E. The hunting, pursuing, capturing, killing or wounding of any game animals, birds or fish in or upon [any] a game refuge, rest ground or closed water or closed area or during [any] a closed season established or proclaimed by the [state game commission] division in accordance with the authority conferred in Chapter 17 NMSA 1978 constitutes a misdemeanor and shall be punishable as prescribed in Chapter 17 NMSA 1978."
SECTION 11. TEMPORARY PROVISIONS--TRANSFER OF FUNCTIONS, PERSONNEL, APPROPRIATIONS, MONEY, PROPERTY, CONTRACTUAL OBLIGATIONS, STATUTORY REFERENCES AND RULES.--
A. On July 1, 2025, all functions, personnel, appropriations, money, records, furniture, equipment, supplies and other personal and real property of the state game commission or the department of game and fish are transferred to the game and fish division of the energy, minerals and natural resources department.
B. On July 1, 2025, all agreements and contractual obligations of the state game commission or the department of game and fish shall be deemed to be agreements and contractual obligations of the game and fish division of the energy, minerals and natural resources department.
C. On July 1, 2025, statutory references to the state game commission, department of game and fish or state game warden, state game and fish warden or warden in Chapter 17 NMSA 1978 or other statutes as those references apply to game and fish shall be construed to be references to the game and fish division of the energy, minerals and natural resources department. References to the director of the department of game and fish in Chapter 17 NMSA 1978 or other statutes shall be construed to be references to the director of the game and fish division of the energy, minerals and natural resources department.
D. Rules of the state game commission shall be rules of the game and fish division of the energy, minerals and natural resources department until amended or repealed.
SECTION 12. REPEAL.--Section 17-1-15 NMSA 1978 (being Laws 1931, Chapter 117, Section 6, as amended) is repealed.
SECTION 13. DELAYED EFFECTIVE DATE.--The effective date of the provisions of this act is July 1, 2025.
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