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Bill pre-empting local labor initiatives derailed in Senate panel

SANTA FE — A proposal to block New Mexico cities and counties from adopting certain kinds of local labor ordinances stalled tonight in a Senate committee.

A motion to advance the legislation, Senate Bill 415, out of the Senate Judiciary Committee failed on a 4-5 vote, meaning it’s likely dead for the 60-day session that ends this weekend.

The vote came despite backers’ attempt to narrow the measure to apply only to local government ordinances regulating employee scheduling and leave. The bill as initially drafted would have also applied to benefits.

Business groups and other supporters argued that a proliferation of different local ordinances could make the state a “regulatory patchwork” of sorts.

“We need continuity when we do business around the state,” said Sen. George Munoz, D-Gallup, the bill’s sponsor.

But critics, including various nonprofit groups, called the legislation an attack on the authority of cities and counties to pass their own ordinances.

Several attempts to enact labor ordinances have been launched in Albuquerque, including a failed 2015 push to pass a “Fair Workplace Act” that contained requirements regarding work schedules and sick leave.

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

The pre-emption bill ultimately failed tonight on a party-line vote, with four Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee voting for advancing the bill, and five Democratic members casting “no” votes.

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