New Mexico Backcountry Hunters & Anglers is working in collaboration with other New Mexican sportsmen organizations and interests to reform the state game commission in a manner which better represents sportsmen. NM BHA Chair Oscar Simpson recently worked at the Bob Gerding Sport-show in Albuquerque and got over 700 letters of support for House Bill 439.
House Bill 439, sponsored by Rep. Tom Taylor of Farmington, would bring sensible and long-needed reforms to the State Game Commission. These reforms would shield the NM State Game Commission from political influence and would make the commission more professional and more responsive to the needs of New Mexico sportsmen, wildlife and habitat.
The bill would:
- Prohibit removal of a commissioner without just cause, allowing commissioners to vote as they wish rather than according to political pressure;
- Require the commission to choose new officers annually and limit commissioners from serving as chair more than once in a four-year period, ensuring that no single commissioner has a monopoly on the chairmanship;
- Continue to give the governor five seats to appoint from each of five geographical areas of the state, ensuring that each commissioner has a single constituency – the license-buying sportsmen of that region;
- Give the Legislature two at-large seats to fill, one with a background in agriculture and another with a background in wildlife and habitat protection issues, ensuring that those important constituencies both have a seat at the table;
- Prohibit the appointment of anyone who has changed political parties within the past year, closing a loophole in current law that some governors have exploited to appoint more than four members from one political party;
- Ensure that no more than two commissioners’ terms would expire in the same year, maintaining continuity and institutional knowledge yet preventing a governor from replacing large portions of the commission at one time;
- Limit commissioners to two four-year terms, ensuring a regular influx of new members and fresh thinking;
- Allow current members to serve out their terms.
For a printable version of key points on HB 439, click here.