GOP ac­cuses Dems of stalling

Sen­a­tor prom­ises meet­ing amid back­log of Martinez ap­pointees


SANTA FE — The rank­ing Repub­li­can mem­ber on a New Mex­ico Se­nate com­mit­tee in charge of hold­ing con­fir­ma­tion hear­ings has crit­i­cized Democrats for not sched­ul­ing meet­ings this sum­mer to ad­dress a lin­ger­ing back­log of ap­pointees, but a top Se­nate Demo­crat said Tues­day the panel will meet at least once be­fore the 2018 leg­isla­tive ses­sion.

Gov. Su­sana Martinez, a Repub­li­can whose sec­ond term in of­fice ends next year, has re­peat­edly ac­cused the Demo­cratic-con­trolled Se­nate of stalling her ap­point­ments, es­pe­cially when it comes to univer­sity re­gents.

And the is­sue has flared up again in re­cent weeks with lead­er­ship changes on the hori­zon for the state’s two largest uni­ver­si­ties — the Univer­sity of New Mex­ico and New Mex­ico State Univer­sity.

Univer­sity re­gents, who are ap­pointed by the gover­nor, have come un­der scru­tiny at NMSU af­ter univer­sity chan­cel­lor Gar­rey Carruthers said last week he’d been told by re­gents that they did not in­tend to ex­tend his con­tract. That prompted an out­pour­ing of sup­port for Carruthers from law­mak­ers and stu­dent lead­ers.

At UNM, re­gents will pick a new pres­i­dent to suc­ceed in­terim pres­i­dent Chaouki Ab­dal­lah af­ter a search com­mit­tee rec­om­mends can­di­dates. That could hap­pen by as soon as this fall.

While the Se­nate acted dur­ing this year’s 60-day leg­isla­tive ses­sion on 10 of the 18 re­gent nom­i­nees the Gover­nor’s Of­fice had sub­mit­ted to the Se­nate Rules Com­mit­tee, it did not act on all six of the re­gent nom­i­nees for UNM and NMSU.

Se­nate Pres­i­dent Pro Tem Mary Kay Papen, D-Las Cruces, said Tues­day she thinks the Se­nate Rules Com­mit­tee will meet at least once this sum­mer, though no date has ap­par­ently been set yet.

“We know there’s some peo­ple out there (who haven’t been con­firmed), and we’re go­ing to try to get some of this cleaned up,” said Papen, who is a mem­ber of the com­mit­tee.

How­ever, she also bris­tled at crit­i­cism from the Gover­nor’s Of­fice and oth­ers about the Se­nate’s pace on con­fir­ma­tion hear­ings, point­ing out the Se­nate did con­firm re­gent nom­i­nees for six dif­fer­ent in­sti­tu­tions dur­ing this year’s reg­u­lar ses­sion.

Mean­while, Sen. Mark Moores, R-Albuquerque, the Se­nate Rules Com­mit­tee’s rank­ing GOP mem­ber, said ear­lier this week he hasn’t been told of any planned hear­ings.

“I’m very dis­ap­pointed — it seems like the pow­ers that be have de­cided we’re not do­ing any­thing un­til there’s a new gover­nor,” Moores told the Jour­nal. “We could have eas­ily done all those con­fir­ma­tion hear­ings this sum­mer.”

The Se­nate Rules Com­mit­tee can hold hear­ings on ap­pointees and other mat­ters be­tween reg­u­lar leg­isla­tive ses­sions. How­ever, nom­i­nees are ap­proved only with the con­sent of the full Se­nate — mean­ing the 42-mem­ber cham­ber must be in ses­sion to vote.

New Mex­ico’s con­fir­ma­tion sys­tem is based on the fed­eral model and re­quires that high-level of­fi­cials be ap­pointed by the gover­nor, with the con­sent of the Se­nate. In ad­di­tion to univer­sity re­gents, the list of those sub­ject to Se­nate con­fir­ma­tion in­cludes Cab­i­net sec­re­taries and ap­pointees to a wide range of boards and com­mis­sions.

Sen. Mary Kay Papen

Sen. Mark Moores

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