House approves PRC qualifications bill

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 14, 2013 at 2:26 pm •  Published: February 14, 2013
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Think New Mexico, an independent think tank, was the driving force behind the PRC overhaul, including requiring minimum qualifications for future candidates. The voter-approved amendment left it to lawmakers to decide the specifics of those qualifications, however.

"This vote shows that the House has taken seriously the popular mandate to substantively increase commissioner qualifications by passing a bill that does so in a thoughtful and balanced way," said Fred Nathan, the think tank's executive director.

A Senate bill takes a different approach than the House measure. Some senators have expressed concern that requiring academic degrees could exclude people with broad professional experience from running for the commission.

Under the House measure, it's possible for someone to qualify as a PRC candidate with 12 years of relevant professional experience and no higher education degree — or it could be a combination of experience and education.

PRC candidates, under the Senate proposal, could meet the qualifications requirement several ways: Having at least three years of experience running a government agency or office responsible for utilities, transportation or construction; five years of senior management experience in a private business regulated by the PRC or an advocacy group involved in regulatory issues; or being a licensed engineer, certified public accountant or lawyer.

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