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Bill would give Legislature role in nominating regents

SANTA FE, N.M. — A proposal to tighten the governor’s free rein over appointing college and university regents cleared its first hurdle Thursday.

The proposed constitutional amendment would direct the Legislature to set up one or more nominating committees to provide lists of regents candidates from which the governor would make appointments.

The House Voters and Elections Committee approved House Joint Resolution 8 on a 6-2 vote, sending it to the House Judiciary Committee.

Critics of the current system say that the appointments can be used to reward political supporters and that regents aren’t as connected or as accountable to local communities as they should be.

“Our state has no qualifications, no requirements, no process,” Rep. Jeff Steinborn, D-Las Cruces, a sponsor of the legislation, told the committee. “It’s just whomever the sitting governor chooses to select.”

Another sponsor, Sen. William Soules, D-Las Cruces, said the lack of a vetting process for regents keeps New Mexico “very provincial, old-school,” even as its biggest universities become more national in scope.

A separate measure sponsored by the pair would change the regents structure at the University of New Mexico and New Mexico State University to provide three elected regents on those boards, one from each congressional district. That proposal, House Joint Resolution 9, is pending in the House Education Committee.
— This article appeared on page A6 of the Albuquerque Journal

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