Supreme Courtroom upholds pandemic procedures at Legislature

by: The Associated Press, KRQE employees

Posted: Feb 12, 2021 / 8:43 PM MST
Updated: February 12, 2021 / 8:43 PM MST

Empty rotunda at the Roundhouse in Santa Fe, New Mexico on January 19, 2021 | KRQE Legislative Reporter Rachel Knapp

SANTA FE, NM (AP) – The New Mexico Supreme Court has denied a Republican challenge to the emergency procedures in the House of Representatives, which have put hearings and deliberations almost entirely online as a precautionary against COVID-19. Republican representatives Jim Townsend, Rod Montoya and Larry Scott have filed the lawsuit against Democratic spokesman Brian Egolf.

The Supreme Court declined to hear the complaint of senior Republican House lawmakers on Friday in a succinct order.

Egolf says the pandemic requires emergency legislative procedures that rely heavily on video conferencing. He says more people are attending online hearings than could possibly physically fit in committee rooms under normal circumstances.

GOP House Leader Townsend responded Friday night, calling it “terribly unfortunate” that the court dismissed the complaint without explanation.

Meanwhile, an unnamed Republican lawmaker along with several employees tested positive for the coronavirus at the Capitol in January.

The Statehouse is closed to the public and lobbyists, while the House limits participation in floor meetings to the speaker and one additional legislature from each party. The state Senate has its own pandemic rules that allow lawmakers to attend meetings in person or from an office in the state’s capitol building. House members can participate from home. The democratically led legislature met on January 19 for a 60-day session.

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