Patrick H. Lyons, chairman of New Mexico Public Regulation Commission, addresses proposed and implemented changes to the PRC:
Hotly contested items before New Mexico lawmakers in 2012 included three bills to reform the Public Regulation Commission. After going through multiple committees in the House and Senate, House Joint Resolution 11, HJR 16 and HJR 17 are all destined for November's ballot.
These three PRC bills could inherently change how the agency operates. Citizens will decide whether the state's insurance division, which oversees things such as changes in consumer insurance rates and policies, and the PRC's corporations division, which registers new businesses, will be moved out of the agency (HJR's 16 & 17). Voters will also decide whether PRC commissioners need certain qualifications to be elected to office (HJR 11).
While not everyone at the PRC agrees entirely with these proposed changes, the agency as a whole has demonstrated a continued interest in making internal improvements in order to better serve the taxpayers of New Mexico.
In the months before the public pencils its mark on the PRC's future, staff members and the commission will be working hard to streamline the agency's core areas by implementing changes brought forward in its 2012 management study. Some of those changes include building a larger, more developed consumer relations division and creating swifter-moving legal processes.
Other performance-related safeguards have already taken effect at the PRC and are working well.
An easy to navigate, consumer-friendly website was built that creates more transparency, even allowing visitors to watch and listen to the PRC's open meetings through live audio and visual streaming. The PRC also developed a code of ethics and code of conduct for its commissioners and implemented an agency-wide salary cap.
Several years' worth of scrutiny from the public and other state agencies has not been easy to manage. However, it has provided the PRC valuable input on what is not working. As the reforms mentioned above indicate, the current administration has been listening.