Pandemic Tests Boundaries of Remote Work in New Mexico – US News

by | Aug 7, 2020 | In the News

BY MORGAN LEE, Associated Press

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — State Public Education Secretary Ryan Stewart has returned to New Mexico and is self-quarantining as a precaution against coronavirus transmission after working remotely for several months from a home in Philadelphia, a state spokeswoman said Friday.

Stewart’s extended stay with family outside the state has prompted questions about the boundaries of remote work as much of the state’s workforce is urged to work from home to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Judy Robinson, a spokeswoman for the governor’s office, said that Stewart continues to use remote technology to conduct meetings with staff and meet other responsibilities while in isolation. New Mexico currently requires travelers to self-quarantine for 14 days when entering or returning to the state.

In an advisory opinion Friday, the New Mexico State Ethics Commission said there is no residency requirement for Cabinet officials and that the Governmental Conduct Act only prohibits a remote-work arrangement “that either inhibits the performance of statutorily defined duties or otherwise obstructs the advancement of the public interest.”

The commission as a whole said it didn’t have enough information to judge whether Stewart met that standard while working from Philadelphia with sporadic visits to New Mexico. One commissioner, Frances Williams, said she feels strongly that the secretary of education specifically should live and work in New Mexico given the weight of responsibilities…

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Click here to read Advisory Opinion 2020-06