Don’t forget the PRC amendments on the ballot this year
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With the presidential, congressional and Roundhouse races getting so much attention with one month to go until Election Day (November 6) and early voting across the state starting today (October 9), don’t forget to look at the second page of the ballots New Mexico voters receive at polling stations.
In particular, there are three amendments dealing with reforming the state’s often-troubled but powerful agency known as the Public Regulation Commission (PRC). If a majority of voters in the state vote “yes” on the respective amendments, they will be adopted into the New Mexico state constitution.
“I cannot think of another government agency that impacts New Mexicans more on a daily basis that the Public Regulation Commission,” said Fred Nathan of Think New Mexico, a non-partisan policy group that spearheaded efforts to prod Roundhouse lawmakers to bring the amendments before voters.
The three amendments pertaining to the PRC are:
*Amendment 2 on the ballot calls for the commission to allow the state legislature to “increase qualifications for commissioners and continuing education requirements.” Right now, anybody can get elected to the PRC provided they are 18 or older, a resident of the state and have no record of committing a felony.
*Amendment 3 on the ballot would transfer the obligations of the PRC’s Corporations Bureau to the Secretary of State’s Office as a way to streamline and simplify paperwork for corportations and limited liability companies in the state — something that 41 other states do in similar fashion.
*Amendment 4 on the ballot would revise the state constitution so that regulating the insurance industry in the state would be moved to a newly-created Office of Superintendent of Insurance, which would be appointed by an independent nominating committee, based on qualifications established by the legislature.
There are critics of the amendments, ranging from those who think they’re are too vague to those who question whether they will really make the PRC — racked with a series of embarrassing incidents involving former commissioners in the agency’s short, 16-year history — a more efficient organziation. While three current commissioners on the PRC are in favor of the amendments, two others — Ben Hall and Theresa Bacenti-Aguilar — are opposed to the the amendment bolstering qualifications for commissioners.
We talked to Nathan on camera about those criticisms and why he thinks voters should give the thumbs-up to all three measures: