Separate bills would set standard to serve on PRC
More than 540,000 New Mexico residents voted in November to increase the qualifications to serve on the state Public Regulation Commission.
Now the Legislature has the job of writing a law with the particulars. Two proposals have been filed.
Rep. Paul Bandy, R-Aztec, and Sen. Timothy Keller, D-Albuquerque, have teamed on one of them, and they have set a high bar.
Their proposal would require "a baccalaureate or more advanced degree from an institution of higher learning that is accredited by a regional or national accrediting body and that requires face-to-face contact between its students and instructors prior to completion of the academic program."
In addition, their bill would require at least seven years' work experience in one of these fields: engineering, law, finance, economics and statistics; or consumer protection and advocacy.
Keller said any of the five sitting commissioners who did not meet the standard would not be subject to the new qualifications.
To date, the only qualifications to serve as a regulatory commissioner deciding complex utility rate cases were a minimum age of 18 and a record free of felonies. A regulatory commissioner makes $90,000 a year.
The Keller-Bandy proposal is Senate Bill 8.
Public policy organization Think New Mexico, which led the effort for increased qualifications, has a bill of its own. It is being carried by House Speaker Ken Martinez, D-Grants, and House Minority Leader Tom Taylor, R-Farmington, right.
Their proposal is less stringent than the other.
It would require a bachelor’s degree in a field relevant to the regulatory commission’s work or at least seven years of experience in a field such as law, accounting, energy or economics. Their proposal is House Bill 47.
Martinez and Taylor also are carrying bills for enabling laws of two other PRC reforms that voters approved.
House Bill 45 would remove from the PRC authority over insurance regulation. A state superintendent of insurance would be appointed by an independent, bipartisan nominating committee.
House Bill 46 would end the PRC’s authority to charter and regulate corporations. Those functions would be shifted to the secretary of state, whose office handles other responsibilities on corporation filings.
Fred Nathan, executive director of Think New Mexico, right, said the change would be helpful to corporations, creating a one-stop shop instead of spreading the work between two separate agencies.