Constitutional “Power Grab” Against the Public Regulation Commission : Vote NO to Amendment #1

VOTE NO to Amendment #1

Posted by Republican Party of Los Alamos on Friday, September 18, 2020

The upcoming election is important to every New Mexican who deserves to know the truth before casting their vote. There is an amendment to the constitution of the State of New Mexico on the ballot in November and voters will decide whether to give up their right to vote and give politicians more power. The governor and legislature don’t believe that the citizens of our great state have the ability to make the right choices when it comes to voting for who represents us at the Public Regulation Commission (PRC). They want to take away your right to vote for your PRC commissioner and give the power to the governor to appoint commissioners to six-year terms, who may not represent the needs or diversity of our communities.   

The Public Regulation Commission is a five-member elected, administrative agency created by the constitution of New Mexico and charged with the responsibility to regulate public utilities, transportation companies, transmission and pipeline companies and other public service companies, including the State Fire Marshal’s Office, in the manner provided by the legislature. The five districts represent our unique and diverse state, elected by voters to represent our multicultural landscape. The issues in each of these districts in our state vary given the demographics and population. But, despite the differences rural and urban districts may have in priorities, we can all agree that utility regulation and reliability matters to us all. 

Yes, there have been controversial issues in the past with individual commissioners that did not perform. However, both the legislature and voters worked to change that. In 2012, the legislature passed an amendment to Article 11 Section 1 of the New Mexico constitution to ensure that elected commissioners meet minimum education, experience and ethical standards. In contrast to other elected officials, they have strict restrictions on campaign donations. The commissioners, unlike the legislature and other state elected officials, are required to meet those minimum standards to earn their pay. The PRC has since proven that they are getting the job done for the people of New Mexico. Regardless of political party, the commission has shown that they can work together to ensure the best outcomes for the benefit of all New Mexicans. 

The PRC has educated, experienced, and competent staff, with engineers, economists and experts in utility regulation to advise commissioners. However, the commissioners are the ones that have to make the tough choices based on the best interest of their constituents. They are accountable to the voters of their district who decide whether they remain in their position. The last election proved the will of the people when two commissioners were voted out of office. The power should remain with the people and not given to career politicians influenced by special interests and money.

The PRC was recently evicted from the PERA building by the governor, leaving employees displaced and shamed. The uncertainty during the COVID pandemic has left PRC employees concerned about how they can meet their responsibilities to the public while working from remote sites.  Now, the threat of politicians taking over the PRC looms and choice and accountability lost by a misleading campaign to shame the PRC and fool voters into giving up their constitutional rights.

Don’t give up your right to vote on issues that will impact your utility rates and your ability to hold commissioners accountable. Any governor that wants to control and shame an agency that does an essential job for the benefit of the citizens of our great state should be checked. There is a separation of power between the branches of government for a reason.  This is worth considering before casting your vote. Power and choice should remain with the people NOT politicians. Vote NO to Amendment 1 on November 3, 2020.