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Motion filed to block city on sick leave ballot

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Proponents of a mandatory sick leave law for Albuquerque businesses filed an emergency motion late Thursday trying to block the city from using what they call an illegal ballot for the Oct. 3 election.

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. To do that, the city clerk will print the initiative on the ballot in 7-point font.

But the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty, which is arguing the case in state district court on behalf of a coalition of left-leaning groups including OLÉ New Mexico, says the city is leaving off the ballot a summary which would be the only way many voters will be able to understand the law since the entire ordinance will be in such small print.

“The emergency motion argues that because the full text of the Healthy Workforce Ordinance will only fit on the ballot in an illegible and illegally-small font size – approximately 7-point font – the City Clerk should place a legible summary on the ballot and provide a legible, large-text copy of the full ordinance in each voting booth so that voters can read both documents. The city uses the same practice for bond questions,” the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty said in a news release Friday.

Mayor Richard Berry opposes the proposed measure, and the community organizing groups claim that he, city councilors and government are excluding the more readable summary and including an advisory question about the ordinance on the ballot as a way of defeating the law.

The groups are asking a judge to halt the city from printing ballots without a summary or from printing ballots with the advisory question. They are also asking the ordinance be printing in 8.5-point font. A hearing on the motion has not been scheduled.

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