Committee assignments evening out

January 21, 2011 • Local News

With Republicans making big gains in the number of GOP state House members, committee assignments are beginning to even out. Tentative committee assignments doled out Thursday by Speaker Ben Lujan, D-Santa Fe, make apparent Republicans’ gaining voice in the lower house, after picking up eight seats in the general election.

In five out of the 12 substantive committees, there are an equal number of Democratic and Republican members. Committees, where bills navigate [auth] before, usually, ending up on the House floor for a vote, were until just recently, dominated by members of the majority party.

“We’ve got more people on committees and some committees are 50-50 now, which they weren’t before,” said Rep. Dennis Kintigh, R-Roswell. “The Republicans are in a much stronger position now to do some things,” he said. “I’m happy for my party and I’m happy for my state.” However, all committees will retain Democrat chair and vice chair positions, including the House Appropriations and Finance, Taxation and Revenue, and Judiciary committees — which cause some local Republicans to remain skeptical of advancing GOP agenda items.

“We’re going to have more members, there’s no doubt about that,” said Rep. Bob Wooley, RRoswell. “But, every committee has a Democrat leader … so it’s going to be a challenge.”

Regardless of this session’s outcome in terms of bills landing on the House floor for a vote, local lawmakers say they are optimistic that the floor won’t be dominated by a single political party. “I think it is hopeful,” said Rep. Nora Espinoza, R-Roswell.

“We’ll hopefully work together … and with things more even on both sides I think it’s going happen.” The House is slated to reconvene, Monday.

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