Kintigh looks to strip speakers’ committee authority

January 26, 2011 • Local News

A local state lawmaker hopes to start a debate [auth] on House member committee assignments and ultimately seeks to strip nearly all of Speaker Ben Lujan’s authority to craft each committee. Rep. Dennis Kintigh, RRoswell, is seeking a House rule change that would give the majority and minority party leadership the authority to dole out their own committee assignments.

Currently, Lujan, D-Santa Fe, decides who serves on each committee that bills navigate through before, if at all, heading to the House floor for a vote.

“The system of having the speaker appoint the representatives from both parties is not appropriate,” Kintigh said.

“Each party needs to decide how to best use their resources to advocate for their positions.” Under the rule change proposal, the speaker of the House would retain the authority to assign each committee’s chair and vice chair positions. Lujan told the Daily Record on Tuesday, he favors the current House rules, but added he works to satisfy each members’ committee request.

“While the speaker of the New Mexico House has the authority to appoint all members to various committees, I work with both the majority and the minority leadership to consider their members’ requests and their recommendations to dif ferent committees,” he said. “I cooperate as much as I can.” Lujan also said he would listen to the decision of the House Rules and Order of Business Committee, on which he serves, in whether to advance the resolution to the floor for a simple majority vote. “I will abide by the decision that is made by the rules committee,” he said.

The House resolution was crafted on Kintigh’s first day back at the Roundhouse, but comes after Lujan removed the lawmaker from the House Judiciary Committee — a move Kintigh called, “a deliberate and conscious decision” by the speaker. A spokesman with the House minority office confirmed Kintigh was the only Republican member, to his knowledge, to be removed from a committee that he or she previously served on. “We believe he’s the only representative in the minority party that it happened to,” said Larry Behrens, House Republican spokesman.

“There’s no one else with those credentials in the House of Representatives and I think it’s, shall I say, puzzling, that someone with that skill set and experience does not have a role on the Judiciary Committee,” said Kintigh, regarding his years in federal law enforcement and time served as chief of the Roswell Police Department. Lujan responded by saying he removed Kintigh because he favored having an attorney serve in the position.

“Kintigh’s removal from the Judiciary Committee was to accommodate (having) a member from that area … (who is) an attorney,” said Lujan, referring to Rep. Cathrynn Brown, R-Carlsbad. “I thought for that area it’s better to have an attorney, if possible, to be able to address those legal issues,” he said.

Despite his desire to have attorneys serve on the committee, Lujan confirmed that another freshman lawmaker slated to serve on the committee, Rep. David Doyle, R-Albuquerque, works as a contractor.

“I’m not trying to call the speaker a liar, I just find that that’s a puzzling and slightly bizarre explantation and I wonder if there are, in fact, other reasons,” Kintigh said.

If the rule proposal doesn’t receive the support of the House Rules and Order of Business Committee, two-thirds of the House would need to vote to approve it in order to be enacted.

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