Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham said on Friday she would veto legislation that would restrict executive power over extending public health orders.
âIn their current context, yes,â she said when asked if she would veto such a bill.
That’s not to say that governors should be âomnipotent,â Lujan Grisham.
âThat’s why you have three branches of government. This is why you have an election. That’s why we have a free and independent press, and I don’t always have a good press, âshe said at a press conference on Friday.
âI want to be clear,â added Lujan Grisham. âI recognize that these systems are important and valuable. New Mexico’s success with COVID is in large part due to the fact that we are a centralized public health state where we can have very clear and effective mandates and supports that we can get immediately.
âStates that don’t have this – and local governments decide this, and they start and they stop – have had more deaths, more problems, more hospitalizations, higher infection rates, and now have problems, so many problems with vaccines, that the federal government is stepping in to do them directly, âshe added.
The governor’s executive power over emergency declarations has been a sore point for some lawmakers as well as for residents of New Mexico. Lujan Grisham’s public health ordinances affected the lives of all New Mexicans for nearly a year, ranging from restrictions on indoor dining and church services to hotel occupancy rates and warrants. mask.
The issue of the governor’s emergency powers surfaced during the Senate Rules Committee as lawmakers considered confirming Dr. Tracie Collins as Cabinet Secretary for the Department of Health.
Senator Mark Moores, R-Albuquerque, said the public perception was that “it is unlimited power for an unlimited period”.
“Where do you think we need to go in the future with this kind of power, for there to be this balance?” he asked Collins.
Collins, who was later confirmed by the Senate, said lawmakers were the voice of their constituents.
âIf there is an emergency and it is not possible to bring everyone together to hear their voices, we need to create a space for you to communicate with senior management, the governor and me- even about what you want to see happen, and it’s a collective discussion of what’s best for the state, âshe said.
Collins also said she didn’t think the governor’s intention was “to have all this power – I really think it’s to protect New Mexico.”
Lawmakers are considering two bills that address the issue, including legislation that would put a 45-day limit on an emergency health ordinance and require legislative approval to extend it beyond 45 days, which is expected to be considered by the full Senate.
Lujan Grisham said she understood and took no offense to anyone in the Legislature wishing to have a debate on emergency powers and executive power.
âI think this is where you have it,â she said. âI have no ill will and I am not crazy. I hear these debates and I take them seriously.
But Lujan Grisham said she had first-hand experience of the importance of dealing with this crisis in an emergency.
“I feel confident and very convinced of the effectiveness – not perfect – of the decisions we have made, and I think many more lawmakers believe that than not,” she said.
“I don’t think I’m going to have to veto any bill,” added Lujan Grisham. âI don’t think they’re going upstairs. Butâ¦ I won’t know until I know it.