Former state Rep. Conrad James, co-sponsor of a controversial bill prohibiting schools from offering reproductive health services, joins the University as the newest member of the Board of Regents.

James has yet to be confirmed by the Senate, but he began serving as an acting regent on the board’s Finance and Facilities Committee on Jan. 14. According to a press release issued by the Office of the Governor, he replaced regent Don Chalmers, whose term expired at the end of December.

Martinez said she trusts that James will be a valuable asset to the board and to the University.

“Conrad James is an outstanding public servant and has demonstrated a valuable knowledge of the University of New Mexico and the Albuquerque community,” she said. “I am confident that he will help to guide the University to new levels of success.”

The Daily Lobo tried to contact James once on Friday morning and once on Sunday afternoon, but he was unavailable for comment both times.

According to the press release, James, 38, has worked as a research engineer in Sandia National Laboratories since 2002.

Originally from Albuquerque, James received his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Notre Dame, and he got his master’s and doctorate degrees in applied and engineering physics from Cornell University.

James, a Republican, was elected to the New Mexico House of Representatives in 2010. He ran for re-election in the fall, but lost the seat to Democrat Linda Thomson.

James was the first Republican African-American from Albuquerque to be elected to the Legislature.

James co-sponsored House Bill 380 during the Legislature’s 2011 session. The bill aimed to prohibit “school-based health centers from offering or providing reproductive health services,” including health care services related to contraception, abortion and sexually transmitted diseases. The bill did not pass.

According to the Legislative Education Study Committee’s bill analysis, the bill conflicted with New Mexico’s Family Planning Act, which requires the state to provide accessible sources of family planning services to residents. The analysis stated that because 22 percent of New Mexico children have no health insurance and because in 2006 the state had the fourth-highest number of chlamydia cases in the country, “young people need a team of health care providers working together at a convenient location.”

James also co-sponsored HB 160 with Sen. George Munoz (D-Gallup), which aimed to allow authorities to seize the motor vehicle of a person whose driver’s license had been revoked because of DWI. The bill stated the state government would use proceeds from the forfeiture of the vehicle for DWI education in the state. The bill did not pass.

James voted to pass HB 78, which aimed to limit the issuance of driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants; HB 644, which aimed increase the retirement age for state public employees; and HB 103, which aimed to increase regulation of driver’s licenses issued to foreign nationals in the state. All these bills passed in the House but were not written into law.