The New Mexico Supreme Court sent House Democrats and their leadership a huge wakeup call in response to their lock-step support and die-hard party loyalty for the governor over the past 620-plus days from the onset of the pandemic.
On March 11, 2020, the governor began her dictatorial journey of bypassing the state Legislature and started her two-year-long mission of shutting our state down, restricting civil liberties and consolidating power — an effort no other NM governor had ever attempted. While at the same time, the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives’ silence in challenging the governor was deafening as they willfully ceded their authority and voice to their party’s leader. They blocked my bipartisan legislation aimed at reforming the Emergency Powers Act, never letting the full body debate the topic, of which I plan to sponsor again this year.
Yet, there may still be hope for New Mexico with the recent ruling by the NM Supreme Court that, contrary to what House Democrats and the governor have been saying (or not saying), the Legislature does have the constitutional duty and responsibility to appropriate money — even federal money — deposited into the State Treasury. Several Democrat Senators joined a bipartisan lawsuit to resist the governor’s overreach. The bipartisan effort allowed the Legislature to take back it’s “power of the purse.” Equally important, the Supreme Court’s decision rejected the governor’s false premise that she alone had the authority to spend more than $1.75 billion in federal dollars without any input from the people’s representatives.
Our republic is at extreme risk when any governor tries to exert unilateral authority which runs counter to constitutional requirements of checks and balances. Yet, there are even greater dangers to our fragile self-governance when one of the branches of government places greater importance on party loyalty than upholding the constitution they were sworn to uphold. That is exactly what Speaker Egolf and his Democrat House colleagues did when they recklessly followed the governor’s lead and never offered a peep of opposition. Hopefully, this ruling by the Supreme Court will give them the courage to stand up for the people who elected them.
We have seen what 620-plus days of Lujan Grisham’s unchecked control has done to our state. Her legacy is dominated by high unemployment, economic uncertainty and increased business closures, not to mention increased prices on everything from groceries to gasoline, and continued failures to educate our students and protect the well-being of young children.
State legislators are duly elected to speak on behalf of their diverse and varied communities across New Mexico. Blindly following the unconstitutional edicts of any governor and not recognizing the separation of powers is not only dangerous, it sets a precedent that silos power to one individual instead of maintaining the checks and balances on the branches of government. The Legislature must seriously rein in Lujan Grisham’s thirst for power because we cannot allow a governor with DC ambitions to ruin our state just so she to springboard herself into the national spotlight. The people’s voice must be restored!
New Mexico Rep. Greg Nibert is a Republican representing Chaves and Lincoln counties.
This article originally appeared on Las Cruces Sun-News: New Mexico suffers when party loyalty is blind