SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – The state Supreme Court says a voter-approved measure changing New Mexico’s utility regulator did not unconstitutionally ‘logroll’ multiple proposals into a single ballot question. The Court’s decision was unanimous and gave reasoning for a decision announced in late 2022 that allowed the overhaul of the Public Regulations Commission (PRC).
Constitutional Amendment 1 made the PRC a three-person regulatory agency to represent districts from across the state appointed by the governor instead of five members being elected by the public. The amendment also narrowed the PRC’s authority in regulating public utilities. It also gave the state legislature power to assign other regulatory jobs to the commission.
“In the present case, we determine that the several changes made by Amendment 1 are all germane to one general object or purpose,” the Court wrote in an opinion by Justice Michael E. Vigil. The decision said that the changes made to “the Legislature’s object or purpose of reforming the PRC.”
Three nonprofit Native American rights organizations challenged the amendment in 2022. They claimed the amendment represented unconstitutional logrolling, combining multiple independent measures into a single ballot question so that people who support one of the proposals would back the others.
The high court rejected the argument, saying the PRC amendment was close to a 1988 ballot question that revised how New Mexico selected judges. The 1988 amendment created the current system of a bipartisan commission that recommends nominees to the governor for open judge appointments. They concluded that the title of Amendment 1 was clear as to the purpose of what it does and was not misleading.