Emergency powers proposal stalls in committee

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ROSWELL, N.M. — An effort to amend the New Mexico Constitution to give lawmakers a say in how state public emergencies are handled has hit a roadblock.

On Wednesday, House Joint Resolution 3 failed to get the support necessary to advance out of the House Government, Elections and Indian Affairs Committee. The measure stalled on a 4-4 vote.

State Rep. Daymon Ely, D-Corrales, who is also one of the sponsors of the resolution, voted with the committees three Republicans, to pass the proposal, while all four Democrats present at the meeting voted against it. One other Democrat, state Rep. D. Wonda Johnson, of Rehoboth was absent.

House District 59 state Rep. Greg Nibert, R-Roswell, and who is one of the legislation’s sponsors, said the resolution is not dead, but not alive either.

“It’s hanging literally in limbo. It did not receive a majority vote to pass out of committee and it was not tabled and so it is in a state of suspension,” he said in a Zoom interview with KOB 4 on Thursday.

The resolution would place on next November’s ballot a proposed state constitutional amendment for that would end any emergency declaration issued by the governor after 90 days.

If such a declaration needed to be extended, a governor would have to convene a special session of the legislature to review the emergency and decide its future.

Nibert said there is still hope the resolution can at least move to the House Judiciary Committee. But much of that will hinge on persuading opponents of the resolution Wednesday to back it.

“If we can convince at least one of them to change their mind, then we can bring it back up and get another vote,” he said.

Nibert said he and Ely will continue to look to garner support from their colleagues but that time is running out.

“We have a lot of issues in front of us. And so I see my challenge as being a steep one, not an easy one,” Nibert stated.

The current legislative session ends at noon on Feb. 17.