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Capitol Notebook: Bill to block local labor ordinances stalls

A proposal to block New Mexico cities and counties from adopting certain kinds of local labor ordinances stalled late Monday 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 measure would apply to local government ordinances regulating employee scheduling, benefits and paid and unpaid leave.

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.

– Dan Boyd,

VETOES: Gov. Susana Martinez vetoed a pair of bills and signed two more on Tuesday.

She rejected a bill that would have allowed a unit of computer science to count toward a high-school student’s math requirement and a proposal to require county treasurers to be notified about the creation of tax diversion districts.

Each bill had passed the Legislature with broad bipartisan majorities. Martinez didn’t explain her vetoes.

Rep. Bill McCamley, D-Mesilla Park, said the public deserves an explanation. The computer science proposal, he said, had support from unions, business groups and state education administrators.

“I want to know why,” he said. “Everyone supported this legislation.”

Martinez also signed two bills – one to provide more flexibility for race tracks that are combined with casinos and another bill that allows medium-size cities and counties to restrict early-morning liquor sales.

– Dan McKay,

CAMPAIGN FIXES: Two bills dealing with New Mexico campaign spending are headed to Gov. Susana Martinez’s desk, after winning final approval Tuesday in the Senate.

One of the measures, Senate Bill 96, would increase disclosure requirements on “dark money” groups and modernize definitions in the state’s Campaign Reporting Act.

It would also double the cap on campaign contributions for legislative candidates – from $2,500 per election cycle to $5,000 per cycle.

Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth, D-Santa Fe, one of the bill’s sponsors, described the increase as necessary in order for legislative candidates to combat the unchecked fundraising ability of independent expenditure groups, or Super PACs.

The other bill, Senate Bill 97, is also sponsored by Wirth. It’s aimed at clarifying appropriate uses of public campaign funds for candidates who qualify to receive them.

– Dan Boyd


PREGNANT: The state House agreed Tuesday to send over to the Senate a bill that would prohibit employment discrimination against pregnant workers.

House Bill 179 also requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for pregnant women.

It passed on a 51-14 vote – picking up some bipartisan support – and how heads to the Senate with just four days left in the session.

Three Democratic representatives are sponsoring the proposed Pregnant Worker Accommodation Act: Gail Chasey and Deborah Armstrong of Albuquerque and Joanne Ferrary of Las Cruces.

– Dan McKay


GUNS: The proposal to require backgrounds on firearm sales arranged online or at guns shows is alive, but just barely.

The House Judiciary Committee narrowly agreed to revive House Bill 548 on Tuesday morning, but without making a recommendation on whether it should be passed.

The proposal will be referred to another committee, House Consumer and Public Affairs, which doesn’t have a hearing scheduled later this week.

The session, of course, ends at noon Saturday. The bill dies if it isn’t acted on by then.

– Dan McKay


LOTTERY: A House committee on Tuesday endorsed a proposal to lift the requirement that at least 30 percent of the revenue generated by the New Mexico Lottery go into a scholarship fund for students.

The bill has already passed the Senate, and it’s now headed to the House floor.

Supporters say the extra flexibility would allow the lottery to make changes that attract more players, which would, in turn, boost the amount of money going to scholarships.

Opponents said there’s no guarantee of increased revenue, among other concerns.

Senate Bill 192 is sponsored by Sen. John Arthur Smith, D-Deming. It cleared the House Appropriations and Finance Committee on a 10-3 vote.

– Dan McKay