PRC Ballot Items Would Streamline Agency, Tighten Credentials

Oct 31, 2012

Voters throughout New Mexico will see three Constitutional Amendments about the state Public Regulation Commission, or PRC, on the ballot in this year's election. 


The three amendments dealing with reform of the PRC are printed far down on the ballot.  The state agency is a five-member panel that regulates utilities, transmission and pipeline firms, transportation and insurance companies.


But scandal involving some commissioners no longer serving on the PRC compelled a public policy non-profit called Think New Mexico to rally the state Legislature for reform.  Legislators then placed the three initiatives before the voters.


The amendments would allow lawmakers to streamline PRC duties, move some of the commission's oversight to the Secretary of State, and allow lawmakers to adopt minimum qualifications for PRC candidates.  It's this last item that has current Commissioner Ben L. Hall of Ruidoso upset:


"You can run for any other office in the United States - no educational requirements.  A senator does not have any, a congressman does not have - the only bodies that have to be educational qualified are judges.  District judges, appellate court judges, Supreme Court judges."  


Hall points out that he's got no college degree, but that he brings a wealth of experience as a businessman to the table and it has served him well.  Supporters of the amendments argue that because of the importance of their duties, state regulators should have more specific credentials.