Governor vetoes bill intended to battle racism - Albuquerque Journal

Governor vetoes bill intended to battle racism

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Gov. Susana Martinez

SANTA FE – Gov. Susana Martinez vetoed legislation Thursday that would have required state agencies to develop anti-racism policies for hiring decisions and create a system to track their progress.

She also rejected four other bills – each of which passed the Legislature with broad bipartisan support – and signed three more.

But the anti-racism proposal, Senate Bill 269, was the most controversial of the group. It passed the House and Senate largely along party lines, with Democrats in favor and Republicans opposed.

Its two main sponsors were Sen. Linda Lopez and Rep. Javier Martinez, both Albuquerque Democrats.

The bill called for state agencies and groups receiving state funding to develop policies to decrease institutional racism, which is defined as “programs, policies and practices that intentionally or unintentionally place certain racial and ethnic groups at a disadvantage in relation to other groups.”

State agencies, in particular, would have been required to carry out a statewide evaluation of race and gender gaps in hiring, promotion and pay. They would also have been required to come up with a plan to address any discrepancies, provide anti-racism training to employees and report back to the Legislature each year.

The state Personnel Office told legislators it would be difficult to implement the proposal. The state’s hiring software doesn’t require applicants to disclose their race, the office said, and the law already prohibits discrimination.

Martinez, the only Hispanic woman serving as governor in the country, said in her veto message that she wasn’t convinced the proposal would do any good.

“I have always fought to ensure that all New Mexicans – regardless of their gender, race or religion – be treated with the utmost dignity and respect,” she said.

Javier Martinez called the governor’s veto “misguided” in a message on Twitter. He added that he was “still proud that we’re first in the nation to pass this type of legislation at the state level.”

The other four vetoed bills focused on clarifying which agencies can participate in a state-run investment pool, behavioral health services for nonviolent offenders, requiring the posting of water rights notices online and a change to the definition of film sets eligible for tax credits.

The bills she signed Thursday involve horse racing, water system financing and bench warrants.

In all, lawmakers approved 277 bills during the session. Martinez has signed 27 bills, allowed two more to become law without her signature and vetoed 21 bills.

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