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NM Senate, House at odds over regulatory changes

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 20, 2013 at 7:46 pm •  Published: February 20, 2013

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico lawmakers are at odds over how to carry out a voter mandate for increasing the qualifications for future members of the state's utility regulatory agency.

The Senate approved a proposal Wednesday on a 32-8 vote that differs significantly from a House-passed measure setting new standards for Public Regulation Commission members.

Lawmakers have slightly more than more than three weeks to resolve their differences before the 60-day legislative session ends. If no agreement can be reached, the Legislature will need to come back to work later in a special session to hammer out a compromise.

A constitutional amendment adopted by voters in November requires increased qualifications for PRC members elected in 2014 or appointed to fill a vacancy starting in July.

The commission regulates electric and natural gas utilities, some telecommunications services and motor carriers such as taxis, moving vans and ambulances.

Under the Senate bill, candidates could qualify for the PRC several ways: Having at least three years of experience running a government agency or office responsible for utilities, transportation or construction; five years of management experience in a private organization or company 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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