Return to NETSTATE.COM home page.

New Mexico State Flag New Mexico

New Mexico State Government

1840 US Territories
New Mexico part of Mexico in 1840
(Get Closer)
STATEHOOD:New Mexico was acquired by the United States as a result of the controversial U.S.-Mexican war (1846-1848). On August 18, 1846, three months after the U.S. declaration of war with Mexico, U.S. General Stephen Kearny and his army marched into and took possession of Santa Fe and New Mexico. In 1848, the war with Mexico ended with the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. Two years later, on September 9, 1850, the U.S. Congress passed an Organic Act, which created the Territory of New Mexico and authorized its civil government.
1850 New Mexico Territory
U.S. New Mexico Territory 1850
(Get Closer)

In 1850, the Territory of New Mexico was much larger than it is today. The territory included present-day New Mexico, Arizona, parts of southern Colorado, southern Utah, and even a piece of southeast Nevada. In 1861, New Mexico lost a northeastern portion of territory to Colorado. In 1863, the New Mexico Territory was split nearly in half to create the Arizona Territory from its western half.

New Mexico's first attempt at a constitution and statehood was made in 1850. This plan didn't get anywhere and was nullified by the Compromise Bill of 1850 that gave New Mexico territorial status. Other attempts were made. New Mexicans voted against two proposed constitutions in 1872 and 1889. New Mexico kept at it, however, and finally, on June 20, 1910, President William H. Taft signed an Enabling Act which authorized the territory to call a constitutional convention in preparation for statehood. On October 3 of that year, one hundred delegates elected from every county in the territory, gathered in Santa Fe and drafted a constitution which was approved by voters on January 21, 1911. On January 6, 1912, President Taft signed the proclamation admitting New Mexico as the 47th state. It had taken New Mexico over 50 years to attain statehood. After the signing, the President turned to the New Mexico delegation and said, "Well, it is all over. I am glad to give you life. I hope you will be healthy."

Constitution graphic
STATE CONSTITUTION:A constitution sets out the rules by which we play the game of government. Like the rules for any other game, it limits the moves available to players. It describes how the various players interact with each other, and who has more power in various situations.

Though amended over 100 times, New Mexico is still governed by its 1911 constitution.

Amendments to the constitution may be proposed in the legislature. To be included in the constitution, an amendment must be approved by a majority of New Mexico voters. Amendments to sections of the constitution that protect the voting rights and the education of Spanish-speaking people require approval by 3/4 of the voters in the state and at least 2/3 of the voters in each county before they may be included in the constitution.

A 2/3 vote of the legislature, approved by New Mexico voters, is needed to call a constitutional convention. Any amendments approved by the convention must be approved by voters to be included in the constitution.

PREAMBLE:We, the people of New Mexico, grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of liberty, in order to secure the advantages of a state government, do ordain and establish this Constitution.


It Grows As It Goes
STATE MOTTO:The New Mexico state motto was first used in 1882, when acting Territorial Secretary, William G. Ritch, added the Latin phrase Crescit Eundo to an early 1860's version of the territorial seal. In 1887, Ritch's version of the seal, including the words Crescit Eundo, was adopted by the legislature as part of the official New Mexico Territory seal and coat of arms.

When New Mexico became a state in 1912, the Legislature appointed a commission to settle on a design for an official "state" seal. As it turned out, the seal recommended by the commission and adopted by the Legislature was almost identical to the territorial seal and included the words Crescit Eundo.

The Latin phrase, Crescit Eundo, can be translated as "Increases as it goes" or, more commonly as New Mexico's motto, "Grows as it goes."

The phrase is taken from Book VI of Lucretius' epic scientific poem De rerum natura, (On the Nature of Things).

Chapter 12, Article 3 of the New Mexico Statutes

The coat of arms of the state shall be the Mexican eagle grasping a serpent in its beak, the cactus in its talons, shielded by the American eagle with outspread wings, and grasping arrows in its talons; the date 1912 under the eagles and, on a scroll, the motto: "Crescit Eundo." The great seal of the state shall be a disc bearing the coat of arms and having around the edge the words "Great Seal of the State of New Mexico."

History: Laws 1887, ch. 70, § 1; C.L. 1897, § 3798; Code 1915, § 5422; C.S. 1929, § 135-101; 1941 Comp., § 3-1301; 1953 Comp., § 4-14-1


The Great Seal of New Mexico
STATE GOVERNMENT:As in the case of the federal government, New Mexico's state government is organized into three branches - legislative, executive, and judicial. The state government is a product of three documents: the United States Constitution, the New Mexico State Constitution, and laws of the state.

The Governor is the state's chief executive, but he shares the responsibility for administering New Mexico's state government with other officials. The Governor of New Mexico is considered the head of his political party in the state as well as chief executive. In addition to administrative duties, he must represent the state both nationally and internationally, appoint members of boards and commissions, and approve statutes enacted by the Legislature. The governor serves for a term of four years and may serve for any number of terms but not more than two terms in a row.

The New Mexico Legislature consists of a House of Representatives with 70 members and a Senate with 42 members.

The state Supreme Court is the highest court. It has five justices elected to eight-year terms. Every two years, the justices select a member of the court to be chief justice. The Court of Appeals reviews judgments made in lower courts and has seven judges, who are elected to eight-year staggered terms. New Mexico's 47 district courts are the state's trial courts. District judges are elected from 13 judicial districts and hold court sessions in each of the state's 33 counties. District judges are elected for terms of six years. Special New Mexico courts include magistrate, metropolitan, and probate courts.


Governor Susana Martinez
Governor Susana Martinez
GOVERNOR:Susana Martinez (Republican)

Susana Martinez was born on July 14, 1959 in El Paso, Texas.

She earned her bachelor's degree from the University of Texas at El Paso and later earned her law degree from the University of Oklahoma College of Law.

First elected in 1996, Susana was subsequently elected to three more terms as district attorney for the 3rd Judicial District of the U.S. state of New Mexico (encompassing Doña Ana County). In her 13 years at this position, she earned a reputation as a tough prosecutor who fights relentlessly for victims and justice. She was twice named New Mexico's "Prosecutor of the Year."

In 2008, Heart Magazine named Susana "Woman of the Year" for her dedication to children's advocacy and her efforts to keep children safe.

Her husband, Chuck Franco, concludes his three-decade career in law enforcement serving as the Doña Ana County Undersheriff.

She has one stepson, Carlo, who recently served in the U.S. Navy, and is currently a student and volunteer firefighter.


New Mexico state capitol
New Mexico State Capitol Building
Courtesy Fanning Bard Tatum Architects


Location:Santa Fe
Date Built:Completed in 1966
  • Only round capitol building in the United States.
  • The New Mexico capitol is a blend of New Mexico territorial style, Greek revival adaptations and Pueblo Indian adobe architecture.
  • The round structure is modified to the shape of the Zia symbol, an ancient symbol of the sun.
  • Dedicated on December 8, 1966, it contains 232,346 square feet and was built for the cost of $4,676,860, or $20 per square foot.
  • Designed by W.C. Kruger and constructed by Robert E. McKee.
  • The Capitol Art Foundation was created in 1991 to assist in the acquisition of art for permanent, public exhibition in the State Capitol.
  • All of the art and handcrafted furniture in the capitol's permanent collection were created by New Mexico artists.
STATE REPRESENTATION:The New Mexico Legislature is composed of two bodies, called houses, like the United States Congress. The two parts are the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Legislature is referred to as a bicameral body because it is made up of two houses. The Latin roots of the word bicameral, "bi" and "cameral," mean two chambers or rooms. The Legislature is responsible for making the laws in New Mexico and for raising and distributing the money necessary to run the state government.


STATE REPRESENTATIVES:Representatives in New Mexico each represent people in a specific area of the state. These areas are called house districts. There are currently 70 men and women representing 70 house districts in the New Mexico House of Representatives. 27 representatives are Republicans and 42 are Democrats. Each representative serves for a period of two years in the House of Representatives, after which he or she must run for re-election.


STATE SENATORS:Senators in New Mexico each represent people in a specific area of the state. These areas are called senate districts. There are currently 42 men and women representing 42 senate districts in the New Mexico Senate. 18 representatives are Republicans and 24 are Democrats. Each senator serves for a period of four years in the Senate, after which he or she must run for re-election.

[ STATE SENATORSadobe document ]

Introduced bill
LEGISLATIVE PROCESS:The legislative branch of government is responsible for making and maintaining laws within their jurisdiction. United States representatives and senators, federal legislators, are responsible for laws at the national level and state legislators are responsible for laws at the state level. A law begins as an idea that is introduced in the New Mexico Legislature as a bill by one or more legislators. The bill then goes through the legislative process to become a law. During this process the bill may be changed. Not all bills become law.


CURRENT LEGISLATION:When the legislature is meeting, it is said to be "in session." The New Mexico legislature meets for regular sessions each year beginning at 12:00 noon on the third Tuesday of January. Sessions held during odd-numbered years meet for a period "not to exceed 60 days." Sessions held during even-number years meet for a period "not to exceed 30 days." The subjects open for consideration by legislators in even-numbered year sessions are restricted. During even-numbered year sessions, legislators may only consider budgets, appropriations, and revenue bills, bills written to align with messages from the governor, and bills of the last session that were vetoed by the governor. [ CURRENT LEGISLATION | KEY TO ABBREVIATIONS ]

STATUTES:The following link will allow you to look at New Mexico's current laws.


COUNTIES:The United States Constitution does not define local government. Instead, this function is left up to the states.

Counties are a local unit of government within a state. All but two of the states are divided into counties. Alaska is divided into boroughs and census districts and Louisiana is divided into parishes where governing responsibilities are similar to counties.

Traditionally, counties performed tasks mandated by the state, such as property assessment, property and vital statistic record keeping, maintenance of rural roads, administration of local election and judicial functions, and support of the poor. Today, counties may be responsible for these functions, more or less, but the responsibilities of county governments vary from state to state.

  • New Mexico has 33 counties.
  • The largest county in New Mexico is Catron County (6,928 square miles).
  • The smallest county in New Mexico is Los Alamos County (109 square miles).
  • The most populated county in New Mexico is Bernalillo County (556,678 - 2000 Census).
  • The least populated county in New Mexico is Harding County (810 - 2000 Census).
United States Capitol Building, Washington, D.C.
United States Capitol Building
Washington, DC
U.S. CONGRESSIONAL DELEGATION: The legislative branch of the United States government makes laws for our nation and raises and distributes money to run the United States government. The most evident part of the legislative branch is the United States Congress. Congress is divided into two parts, called houses. The two parts are the Senate and the House of Representatives. Congress is referred to as a bicameral body because it is made up of two houses. The Latin roots of the word bicameral, "bi" and "cameral," mean two chambers or rooms. Members of the Senate are called Senators and members of the House of Representatives are called Representatives. Senators and representatives serving in these two bodies are sometimes referred to as congressmen, or women, and sometimes as legislators because their business is to legislate or make laws. The role of the legislative branch is defined in the United States Constitution.


Each state elects people to represent them in the United States Congress in Washington, DC. The citizens of each state elect two senators to represent them in the Senate. They also elect representatives to represent them in the House of Representatives. The number of representatives each state sends to the House of Representatives is not a specific number like the Senate, but is based on the population of the state. The people, that are elected to represent the state's citizens in the United States Congress, are referred to as the congressional delegation.

There are 100 senators in the U.S. Senate. Each is elected to a term, in the Senate, of six years. There are 435 representatives in the U.S. House of Representatives. Each is elected to a term, in the "House," of two years.

The citizens of New Mexico elect two people, like every other state, to represent them in the Senate and three people, based on New Mexico's population, to represent them in the House of Representatives.

U.S. Senate (2):

U.S. House of Representatives (3):


Source: University of Texas at Austin, (, April 26, 2004
Source: State of New Mexico Web Site, (, April 25, 2004
Source: Office of the Governor of New Mexico, (, February 13, 2011
Source: New Mexico Legislature, (, April 25, 2004
Source: New Mexico Blue Book Online, (, April 25, 2004
Source: Mitt Romney Free and Strong America PAC, ( February 13, 2011. Source:, (, April 25, 2004
Source: National Governor's Association, (, February 13, 2011
Source: Morain, Stanley A. "New Mexico." World Book Online Reference Center. 2004. World Book, Inc. 1 May. 2004., ( )

To New Jersey government. To New York government.

Site designed exclusively for NETSTATE.COM by NSTATE
United States Flag

NETSTATE.COM is a Trademark of NSTATE, LLC.
Copyright © 2003- by NSTATE, LLC. All rights reserved.
No copyright is claimed on non-original or licensed material.