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ABQ mayor vetoes sick leave election resolution

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Objecting to what he describes as an incomplete and misleading summary of a proposed sick leave ordinance, Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry has vetoed the election resolution approved by the council earlier this month.

The mayor’s veto means the City Council will have to hold a special meeting in July to pass a new election resolution.

At issue is the Healthy Workforce Ordinance, a citizen initiative that, if approved by voters on Oct. 3, would require any business with a physical presence in Albuquerque to provide paid sick time off for full-time, part-time and temporary workers. A judge has ordered the city to print the entire seven-page ordinance on the ballot, which will almost certainly require the city clerk to print the initiative in a small font.

The council earlier this month approved an election resolution that would require the clerk to print a summary of the initiative on the ballot in regular-size font, even if the full ordinance is printed in smaller type. The summary was prepared by proponents of the sick leave measure.

Berry, a Republican, said his veto isn’t a commentary on his personal views about paid sick leave or his opinion of the ordinance.

“It’s simply a principled argument that the summary does not accurately reflect the proposal proponents are asking them to vote on,” Berry told the Journal. “I think the summary misleads by omission.”

Council President Isaac Benton said he doesn’t understand the mayor’s objection, noting that under the election resolution that was approved, the clerk would print both the summary and the full ordinance on the ballot. Unfortunately, he said, the council can attempt an override only during regularly scheduled meetings, and the council has no regular meetings scheduled in July.

Proponents of the ordinance blasted Berry on Thursday.

“The Healthy Workforce campaign believes that the voters should read our entire, proposed earned sick days ordinance,” OLÉ said in a written statement. “Unfortunately, Mayor Berry seems bent on preventing that from happening.”

The organization accused Berry of trying to force an illegible ballot on voters “that contains the text of the earned sick days ordinance printed too small to read.”

“The Council’s election resolution would place a legible version of the unbiased summary on the ballot which the campaign’s qualifying petition contained, and would also provide a copy of the full ordinance in a legible font inside every voting booth,” OLÉ said.

Among the items the summary excludes, according to Berry:

— Employers can not require documentation that paid sick leave was used for an allowable purpose, unless an employee uses three or more consecutive sick days. Then the employer is required to pay the cost of obtaining that documentation.

— The proposed ordinance limits the City Council’s ability to amend the ordinance in the future.

— There would be a presumption that the employer violated the ordinance in the following scenario: An employee who has been terminated or disciplined claims retaliation because he or she had taken the paid sick leave within the past 90 days.