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Legislative committee convenes by phone

The Roundhouse

SANTA FE — A panel that includes high-ranking legislators met by telephone Thursday to discuss litigation centering on the upcoming primary election — the committee’s first meeting since the virus outbreak.

House Speaker Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe, said the meeting went well, and the members had no trouble sharing strong opinions with each other. A follow-upDan McKay meeting is expected next week.

The group is still examining whether to convene through a video conferencing program next time, rather than by phone.

Thursday’s meeting of the Legislative Council was closed to the public because the topic was pending litigation, an exception allowed under New Mexico’s open-meetings law.

The state Supreme Court has asked the Legislature to weigh in on an emergency petition from 27 county clerks who want to shift the June 2 primary to a mail-in election.

Supporters of the petition contend an election by mail is necessary to ensure the safety of voters and poll workers. Opponents say the clerks are seeking to bypass the Legislature, which could meet in special session to change the election rules.

The Supreme Court has also asked the parties to address whether the state Constitution would permit lawmakers to meet electronically without a physical presence in the Capitol. Egolf and others have explored that idea as a way to convene safely during the pandemic.

The Legislative Council is a committee that meets between sessions of the Legislature. Its membership includes the speaker and Senate president pro tem, majority and minority leaders in each chamber, and other lawmakers.

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