SANTA FE. N.M. (AP) — The state Supreme Court showed new resolve in its support of pandemic related health restrictions placed on businesses by the governor of New Mexico, in a detailed written opinion Monday.
At the same time, the Legislature took initial steps that could place new limits on Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham's authority to declare a health emergency.
The Supreme Court opinion provides detailed and updated reasoning for its rejection in August of a lawsuit brought by several restaurants and their industry association to challenge restrictions on restaurant dining.
“New Mexico has not entered a ‘new normal,’ nor do the temporary emergency orders constitute ‘long-term policy’ decisions. New Mexico remains in a state of emergency,” the court said in an opinion lead by retired Justice Judith K. Nakamura.
The court said a suggestion that the Legislature holds special sessions to guide the pandemic response was obviously unworkable. Chief Justice Michael Vigil did not participate in the case.
A state Senate committee on Monday advanced a bill that would give the Legislature a share of authority over extended public health emergencies.
The bill from Republican Senate Minority Leader Greg Baca would limit the duration of public health orders to 45 days and require legislative approval to extend an order.
The committee withheld a favorable endorsement but kept the initiative alive for further vetting prior to any possible Senate vote.
New Mexico health officials reported 200 additional COVID-19 cases on Monday and nine deaths.