Senator proposes deadlines on appointees

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SANTA FE – A Republican lawmaker will ask his colleagues next week to establish deadlines aimed at breaking the logjam of gubernatorial appointees awaiting confirmation hearings in the state Senate.

Sen. Mark Moores of Albuquerque plans to introduce a resolution that would encourage the Senate Rules Committee to meet between regular legislative sessions to ensure it has enough time to consider regents, Cabinet secretaries and other appointees nominated by the governor.

The committee would have the first three days of each regular session to send its recommendations to the full Senate for consideration.

If not, consideration of the appointees would be referred to a different committee

with expertise in the subject area. An education secretary, for example, might go before the Senate Education Committee.

The proposal comes after the Senate Rules Committee this year failed to hold hearings and make recommendations on a host of appointees proposed by Gov. Susana Martinez.

Two of the governor’s nominees for the University of New Mexico Board of Regents, for example, have not joined the board because they weren’t confirmed. Instead, two regents with expired terms remain on the board.

“Often the bureaucratic slowdown, or the political slowdown, that happens is preventing us from doing our constitutional job,” Moores said in an interview. “I find that very frustrating.”

Martinez, a Republican in her second term as governor, has repeatedly accused the Senate – where Democrats hold a 26-16 majority – of stalling her appointments. In one case, the public education secretary, Hanna Skandera, spent more than four years on the job before she was confirmed by the Senate.

But it is unclear if the Senate has much appetite to change its handling of appointments.

Senate President Pro Tem Mary Kay Papen, D-Las Cruces, said it wouldn’t be wise to change the rules just because of a problem “one time.” And many of Martinez’s appointees do get confirmed, just not all of them, she said.

“I frankly don’t see that there’s any reason to change the rules,” Papen said.

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Sen. Mary Kay Papen

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