PRC Elects Hall as Chairman for 2013


By Kevin Robinson-Avila / Journal Staff Writer

on Tue, Jan 8, 2013

Ben Hall, NMPRC Chairman
Ben Hall, NMPRC Chairman

SANTA FE – Republican Ben Hall and Democrat Valerie Espinoza were elected as 2013 chair and vice chair, respectively, for the Public Regulation Commission in a 3-2 vote on Tuesday.

The vote ended a potentially rough start to the new year, following disagreements about the chair and vice chair election last week at the PRC, which faces some major changes in 2013.

Voters in November approved constitutional amendments to increase qualifications for PRC candidates to become commissioners, and to move responsibility for insurance regulation and for chartering and regulating corporations elsewhere.

Both Hall and Espinoza said they want to assist legislators to carry out the reforms. But Hall, who opposed the amendments, said he would fight any new efforts to take more PRC responsibilities away.

“If there are more bills to tear more things away from the PRC, I will oppose it,” Hall said.

As chair, Hall said he will work to tighten up internal management of departments to eradicate lingering fraud and abuse.

“There are still people coming and going as they please in too many (state) cars, and there are still people who misuse or abuse the rules,” he said.

Espinoza said the newly constituted commission marks a fresh start at the PRC, which has been battered by scandal. Two former commissioners were either convicted or pleaded guilty to felony charges in recent years.

“We have competent staff here,” Espinoza said. “I think we all got on the same page today, and that’s where revitalization begins.”

Earlier in the day, Commissioner Pat Lyons, a Republican who chaired the PRC the past two years, nominated Hall and Espinoza for the positions.

Separately, Democrat Karen Montoya nominated fellow Democrat Theresa Becenti-Aguilar as chair, with Espinoza to serve as vice chair. But Espinoza said she preferred to support Hall to rotate leadership at the PRC, since Becenti-Aguilar has already served as vice chair for two years.

“I believe each of us should have the opportunity to serve as chair, and we will, because 12 months is really just a short period,” Espinoza told the Journal. “This is Commissioner Hall’s opportunity to take the lead.”

Both Espinoza and Montoya are newcomers to the commission. They replaced Democrats Doug Howe and Jason Marks, respectively, on Jan. 1.