New Mexico's first attempt at wholesale revision of the 1910 constitution was the result of the six-year effort of the 1963-68 first constitutional revision commission. That effort directly resulted in the 1969 constitutional convention. On November 5, 1968, the question of calling the convention was adopted by the voters by a 44,245 margin. (See Table 6.) As required by Article 19, the following legislative session enacted Senate Bill 166 (Laws 1969, Chapter 134) providing the enabling legislation for the convention. The law called for the convention to meet at the capitol in Santa Fe at 12:00 noon on August 5, 1969. A nonpartisan election of 70 delegates was scheduled for June 17 of that year.
After convening, the convention sat in continuous session for 60 days with the exception of one two-week recess to allow the style committee to edit and prepare in a uniform style all the articles recommended by the several committees.
The convention adjourned on October 20, 1969 after adopting a proposed new constitution for the state. The document was submitted to the voters as a single vote at a special election on December 9 and was narrowly rejected by a vote of 63,387 to 59,685.
- 13 - With respect to the piecemeal amendment process, the rejected constitution would have abolished the extraordinary vote requirement on the unnameable sections. It would have required only a majority vote of all the members of each house on all piecemeal amendments. It also would have required a summary of what the amendment proposed to do to be added to the title indicating the articles and sections to be amended.
The single subject requirement was to be retained.
This revision effort, although unsuccessful at the polls, was not without some rewards. The research by the commission is of considerable value as a resource for future revision studies, as was the case with the 1994-95 second constitutional revision commission. In addition, the 1970 legislature proposed for successful adoption by the voters several items in that constitution. For example:
(1) increased terms to four years for elected state executive officers;
(2) authorized constitutional home rule for municipalities;
(3) provided residential requirements for members of municipal governing bodies;
(4) by amendment of the bill of rights article, permitted citizens to keep and bear arms for security and defense, for lawful hunting and recreational use and for other lawful purposes;
(5) authorized the legislature to provide by law for different methods to determine the value of different kinds of property for tax purposes, but with a limit of thirty-three and one-third percent on the percentage value against which tax rates are assessed; and
(6) adopted Article 20, Section 21 declaring pollution control to be within the police power of the state.
The second constitutional revision commission was created by the legislature in 1993 and functioned until December 1995. Its members were not appointed until almost one year after the passage of the law. Its report was submitted to the 1996 legislature and consisted of drafted piecemeal amendments for changes in nine articles with special recommendation for future study and consolidation of those articles and sections pertaining to taxation, revenue and indebtedness. The recommended substantive changes were categorized into highest priority, high priority, medium priority and low priority of enactment.
Included in the highest priority of adoption were: - 14 -
(1) repeal of Article 19, Section 5 to allow amendment of Section 1 of that article without the necessity of a constitutional convention;
(2) amendment of Article 19, Section 1 to provide an additional mechanism for submitting constitutional amendments to the voters that involve more than a piecemeal change and less than a revision of the entire constitution;
(3) amendment of Article 19, Section 1 to eliminate the 75 percent requirement to bring about general change in voter qualifications and educational rights while preserving the important protection of minority rights; and
(4) amendment of Article 19, Section 1 to allow the secretary of state to inform the public about the content and purpose of proposed constitutional amendments by means other than the publication of legal notices in newspapers.
The 1996 legislature proposed to the voters in the general election of that year the first three of these commission amendments with some changes and those amendments were adopted. Also adopted was the commission recommendation in support of the governor's permanent funds study committee for provisions governing investment of the permanent funds.
Also proposed and adopted in that election was an amendment pertaining to legislative per diem and mileage based on the internal revenue service regulations for Santa Fe and the repeal of Article 11 pertaining to the corporation commission and its duties and the creation instead of a unified state regulatory commission covering the functions of both the former corporation commission and the New Mexico public utility commission.