SENATE BILL 434
56th legislature - STATE OF NEW MEXICO - first session, 2023
George K. Muñoz
RELATING TO THE PUBLIC REGULATION COMMISSION; EXCLUDING CERTAIN INTERNAL MATTERS FROM PUBLIC BUSINESS THAT MUST ADHERE TO THE REQUIREMENTS OF THE OPEN MEETINGS ACT; ALLOWING ADVISORY STAFF OF THE PUBLIC REGULATION COMMISSION TO DISCUSS PUBLIC BUSINESS MATTERS AND PUBLIC POLICY ISSUES WITH AN INDIVIDUAL COMMISSIONER; ALLOWING ADVISORY STAFF OF THE PUBLIC REGULATION COMMISSION TO DISCUSS VIEWS OF INDIVIDUAL COMMISSIONERS WITHOUT IT ESTABLISHING A QUORUM, WHILE REQUIRING THAT ANY FINAL ACTION OR DECISION ON SUCH MATTERS BE MADE AT A PUBLIC MEETING.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF NEW MEXICO:
SECTION 1. Section 62-19-9 NMSA 1978 (being Laws 1998, Chapter 108, Section 4) is amended to read:
"62-19-9. COMMISSION--GENERAL POWERS AND DUTIES.--
A. The commission shall administer and enforce the laws with which it is charged and has every power conferred by law.
B. The commission may:
(1) subject to legislative appropriation, appoint and employ such professional, technical and clerical assistance as it deems necessary to assist it in performing its powers and duties;
(2) delegate authority to subordinates as it deems necessary and appropriate, clearly delineating such delegated authority and any limitations;
(3) retain competent attorneys to handle the legal matters of the commission and give advice and counsel in regard to any matter connected with the duties of the commission and, in the discretion of the commission, to represent the commission in any legal proceeding;
(4) organize into organizational units as necessary to enable it to function most efficiently, subject to provisions of law requiring or establishing specific organizational units;
(5) take administrative action by issuing orders not inconsistent with law to assure implementation of and compliance with the provisions of law for which the commission is responsible and to enforce those orders by appropriate administrative action and court proceedings;
(6) conduct research and studies to improve the commission's operations or the provision of services to the [citizens] residents of New Mexico;
(7) conduct investigations as necessary to carry out the commission's responsibilities;
(8) apply for and accept grants and donations in the name of the state to carry out its powers and duties;
(9) enter into contracts to carry out its powers and duties;
(10) adopt such reasonable administrative, regulatory and procedural rules as may be necessary or appropriate to carry out its powers and duties;
(11) cooperate with tribal and pueblo governments on topics over which the commission and the other governments have jurisdiction and conduct joint investigations, hold joint hearings and issue joint or concurrent orders as appropriate; and
(12) apply to the district court for injunctions to prevent violations of any laws that it administers or rules or orders adopted pursuant to those laws.
C. The commission shall:
(1) prepare an annual budget for submission to the legislature;
(2) provide for surety bond coverage for all employees of the commission as provided in the Surety Bond Act and pay the costs of such bonds;
(3) adopt rules to streamline the resolution of cases before it when appropriate by:
(a) the use of hearing examiners;
(b) the taking of evidence with the least delay practicable;
(c) limiting repetitious testimony; and
(d) adopting procedures for resolving cases in ways other than by trial-type hearings when appropriate, including consent calendars, conferences, settlements, mediation, arbitration and other alternative dispute resolution methods and the use of staff decisions; and
(4) provide a toll-free telephone number and publish it and the commission's general telephone number in local telephone directories.
D. A majority of the commission constitutes a quorum for the transaction of public business; provided, however, that a majority vote of the commission is needed for a final decision of the commission for matters involving public business. The public business of the commission shall constitute matters within the commission's principal statutory or constitutional powers and duties, excluding the powers and duties set forth in Paragraphs (1), (3), (4), (6) and (8) of Subsection B of this section."
SECTION 2. Section 62-19-19 NMSA 1978 (being Laws 1998, Chapter 108, Section 13) is amended to read:
"62-19-19. ADVISORY STAFF.--
A. The chief of staff may hire, with the consent of the commission, advisory staff with expertise in regulatory law, engineering, economics and other professional or technical disciplines to advise the commission on any matter before the commission. The chief of staff may hire on a temporary, term or contract basis such other experts or staff as the commission requires for a particular case.
B. Advisory staff shall:
(1) analyze case records;
(2) analyze recommended decisions;
(3) advise the commission on policy issues;
(4) assist the commission in the development of rules;
(5) assist the commission in writing final orders; and
(6) perform such other duties as required by the chief of staff.
C. Advisory staff may discuss public business matters and public policy issues with an individual commissioner as may be necessary to assist the commission in performing its powers and duties. A discussion or series of discussions between advisory staff and individual commissioners concerning the views of individual commissioners shall not establish a quorum. A final action or decision of the commission relating to public business or public policy shall be made at a public meeting."
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