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Sponsor says bill won’t benefit his consulting firm

SANTA FE – An Albuquerque state senator who runs a call center consulting business says his company wouldn’t benefit from legislation he sponsored to require call centers that contract with the state to be based in New Mexico.

Sen. Michael Padilla, a Democrat, is the sponsor of Senate Bill 414, which includes a provision to require any call center that contracts with the state to be located in New Mexico. The primary intent of the bill is to require any call center in New Mexico with 50 or more employees to pay a fine if it moves a significant portion of operations to a foreign country without providing the state at least 120 days’ notice.

Padilla is CEO of Altivus CRM Solutions, a New Mexico company that provides call center startup services, consulting and technology implementation. The bill is on the agenda to be put to a vote by the full Senate.

“I want to make this real clear: zero benefit to my company,” Padilla said about the call center legislation. He said he introduced the bill after being approached by Communications Workers of America union representatives who asked the legislation be introduced in New Mexico as an effort to create jobs.

Senate Bill 414 is written to require any call centers that contract with the New Mexico state government to be “located entirely within” New Mexico by 2015. Padilla said Friday that there will be a proposal on the Senate floor to remove that provision and allow any out-of-state company that opens a call center in New Mexico to be eligible to bid on state call center contracts. Employees doing New Mexico government contract work would be required to work out of the company’s New Mexico office, he said.

“This bill does not give preference to an in-state business or an out-of-state business that does this kind of work. All it does is it ensures that whatever company does this work that they’re located in New Mexico and that’s where those calls are taken.”

Padilla’s company in 2009 received a $49,000 contract with the state Taxation and Revenue Department to verify the residency status of certain New Mexico driver’s license holders. Asked whether that contract would be the type of work affected by his legislation, Padilla said, “Conceivably, yes.”

The bill has been recommended by the Senate Corporations and Transportation Committee – where Padilla cast a vote in favor of the bill – and the Senate Judiciary Committee. If approved by the full Senate, the bill would go to the House for consideration.

Jon Hendry, president of the New Mexico Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO, said he approached Padilla in January with model legislation drafted by the Communications Workers of America union and introduced in other states.

“We don’t even know this guy, but we heard he was in the call center business and we just thought it would be easier than explaining what a call center was, so we took him this legislation and asked him to carry it for us,” Hendry said.
— This article appeared on page A4 of the Albuquerque Journal