New Mexico

State government

The constitution of New Mexico was drafted in 1910, approved by the voters in 1911, and came into effect when statehood was achieved in 1912. A new constitution drawn up by a convention of elected delegates was rejected by the voters in 1969. By January 2003, the 1912 document had been amended 146 times.

The legislature consists of a 42-member senate and a 70-member house of representatives. Senators must be at least 25 years old and residents of their districts; they serve four-year terms. House members must be 21 years old and residents of their districts; they serve two-year terms. The legislature meets every year, for 60 calendar days in odd-numbered years and 30 calendar days in even-numbered years. The legislature may call special sessions, limited to 30 calendar days, by petition of three-fifths of the members of each house. Legislators do not receive a salary from the state.

The executive branch consists of the governor and lieutenant governor (elected jointly), secretary of state, auditor, treasurer, attorney general, and commissioner of public lands. They are elected for four-year terms; none may serve more than two successive terms. Candidates for governor must be 30 years old, US citizens, qualified voters, and residents of New Mexico for at least five years prior to election. In 2002 the governor's salary was $90,000, unchanged from 2000. Three elected members of the Corporation Commission, which has various regulatory and revenue-raising responsibilities, serve six-year terms.

A bill passed by the legislature becomes law if signed by the governor, if left unsigned by the governor for three days while the legislature is in session, or if passed over the governor's veto by two-thirds of the members present in each house. If the governor does not act on a bill after the legislature adjourns, the bill dies after 20 days.

In general, constitutional amendments must be approved by majority vote in each house and by a majority of the electorate. Amendments dealing with voting rights, school lands, and linguistic requirements for education can be proposed only by three-fourths of each house, and subsequently must be approved by three-fourths of the total electorate and two-thirds of the electorate in each county.

In order to vote in state elections, a person must be 18 years old, a US citizen, and a state resident. Restrictions apply to convicted felons and those declared mentally incompetent by the court.