Supreme Court upholds pandemic procedures at Legislature

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The New Mexico Supreme Court has rejected a Republican challenge to emergency procedures in the state House of Representatives that have moved hearings and deliberations almost entirely online as a precaution against COVID-19.

The high court declined to hear the lawsuit from leading Republican House legislators on Friday in a shortly worded order.

Democratic House Speaker Brian Egolf says that emergency legislative procedures that rely heavily on videoconferencing are necessary in light of the pandemic. He says more people are participating in online legislative hearings than could possibly fit physically into committee rooms under normal circumstances.

An unnamed Republican lawmaker tested positive in January for the coronavirus at the Capitol, along with several staff.

The Statehouse is closed to the public and lobbyists, while the House limits participation in floor sessions to the speaker and one additional legislator from each party.

The state Senate has its own pandemic rules that allow legislators to attend floor sessions in-person or remotely from an office in the state Capitol building. House members can participate from home.

The Democratic-led Legislature convened on Jan. 19 for a 60-day session.