January 29, 2015

Shut out: GOP Chair Shuts Down Public Comment in Committee with Dozens Waiting to Speak

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Speakers waiting in line to oppose right-to-work

More than two-dozen New Mexicans were blocked from speaking about a controversial labor law proposal after the new Republican chairwoman of the House Business and Employment committee stopped public comment in the public committee this morning.

State Rep. Debbie Rodella (D-Rio Arriba/Santa Fe) opposed the decision saying “no one” has ever cut off public comment or limited the ability of the public to speak on legislation. “This is a dangerous precedent,” she added.

After Republican State Rep. Dennis Roch (R-Logan) presented his right-to-work bill (HB22), Committee Chair Jane Powdrell Culbert (R-Bernalillo Co.) asked for a show of hands of those in opposition to the bill. Seeing a room full of hands, she declared “every hand went up.”

She then called for public input, then cut it off saying she was imposing a time limit on public comment.

Rep. Carl Trujillo (D-Santa Fe) opposed the decision saying, “this is the people’s house.”  He then asked the chair to open comment up again after supporters spoke.

Minority Leader Brian Egolf (D-Santa Fe) also asked the chair to allow everyone to speak.

These speakers were frozen at the microphone waiting their turn when the chair cut off comment.

Speakers waiting in line to oppose right-to-work

Speakers waiting in line to oppose right-to-work

See more photos from the debate and the day in this Facebook album.

Update (10:20 am): Opponents were allowed to continue their comment after time allotted for supporters expired.  The handful of supporters for Right-to-Work did not have enough support to fill their allotted 45-minute time slot.