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Bill blocking local labor initiatives makes way through Senate

SANTA FE, N.M. — A bill that would prevent local governments from adopting certain kinds of labor laws has passed one Senate committee and is awaiting a hearing before a second one.

The measure, Senate Bill 415, would prohibit city and counties from adopting their own standards regarding employee scheduling, paid or unpaid leave, or other benefits that would be required of an employer.

Supporters say the measure would avoid a patchwork of regulations that would be difficult to enforce, while opponents say it’s an attack on local control.

“I don’t think we live in a one-size-fits-all state,” said Diane Gibson, Albuquerque city councilor and board member of the New Mexico Municipal League. “This bill certainly is not good for the cities and the towns of New Mexico, nor is it beneficial at all for the people who work here.”

A similar bill was introduced last year, but the House failed to act on it before the session ended, said Jason Espinoza, president of the New Mexico Association of Commerce and Industry.

That bill was a show of concern about last year’s failed effort to pass the “Fair Workweek Act” in Albuquerque, which contained requirements regarding work schedules and sick leave.

This year, Albuquerque voters will decide on a ballot measure covering sick leave benefits.

Espinoza said businesses, particularly in the construction industry, would have a hard time dealing with regulations that are different in different parts of the state.

Employees of construction-related businesses work wherever a particular project is, so having to follow a variety of regulations would be a “complex nightmare,” he said.

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