Proposed legislation would allow voters to elect regents

Proposed legislation would allow voters to elect regents
Thursday, January 31, 2013 - 12:15am

Two Las Cruces area state representatives are sponsoring bills that would make changes to the state constitution allowing voters to elect regents.

HJR 8 and HJR 9 were filed Wednesday, according to State Representative Jeff Steinborn. 

"It's really time for a change to kind of inject some best practices and professionalism to how we pick these folks that run our universities," Steinborn said.

He along with William Soules are sponsoring the legislation that would allow voters to have a say on three of the seven regents.

The legislation would require two of the appointed members be recommended by a nominating committee.

Steinborn said having voters elect regents would make them more accountable.

"They by definition will be looking for public feedback," Steinborn said. "They will be accountable to the citizens."

The changes would also include voting in a faculty member to he board of regents.

"By having a member of the faculty you're going to have more knowledge sensitivity and awareness to the needs in the classroom," Steinborn said.

Steinborn added he felt the legislation would help give faculty and staff a voice.

He said in the parting of ways with former president Barbara Couture at New Mexico State University faculty and staff had almost no say in the matter.

Couture was given almost a half a million dollars when she agreed to leave the university.

A lot of the meetings happened behind closed doors and with little information released to the public.

The regents would be voted on by congressional district.

If approved in the legislature, the changes would then be placed on the ballot for the next general election for New Mexico residents to vote on.

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