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Saturday, February 22, 2003

Around the Roundhouse

    HOUSE OKS EQUAL WAGES MEASURE
    SANTA FE The House on Friday approved a bill making it illegal for New Mexico employers to pay women less than men for doing the same work.
    The legislation passed 49-15 and went to the Senate, over the objections of lawmakers who said it was unnecessary.
    The bill says an employer may not pay an employee a lower wage for equal work on the same job than an employee of the opposite gender receives, except under specified conditions, including seniority or merit systems.
    Employees could go to court within two years and recover back wages and costs, including attorney fees.
    "I think it's an important public policy declaration for the state of New Mexico, that we will not tolerate gender discrimination in the workplace," said its sponsor, Rep. Al Park, D-Albuquerque.
   

    PROPERTY TAX RELIEF APPROVED BY HOUSE
    SANTA FE A proposal to give property tax relief to low-income disabled New Mexicans is pending in the Senate after House approval.
    The bill, sponsored by Rep. Miguel Garcia, D-Albuquerque, would freeze property valuations of homes owned by a disabled person with yearly income of up to $18,000.
    Garcia said the proposal would provide some New Mexicans with a greater opportunity to own a house. He said it would also help safeguard existing homeowners who are disabled against large tax spikes when expensive housing is built in older neighborhoods and that boosts all property valuations.
   

    SPEED BUMP BILL SAILS THROUGH SENATE
    SANTA FE A proposal to restrict the use of "speed bumps" and "speed humps" by cities motored through the Senate on Wednesday.
    The measure by Sen. Leonard Lee Rawson, R-Las Cruces, would prohibit cities from installing the devices that force vehicles below the speed limit for the street.
    Rawson complained that the bumps and humps on roads can be dangerous because they sometimes lack warning signs, are poorly lighted and may not have stripes to alert motorists that they must quickly slow down. He also said the speed barriers unnecessarily delay ambulances and emergency vehicles.
    The bill passed 29-5 and goes to the House for consideration.
   

    SENATE CONFIRMS FAIR APPOINTEES
    SANTA FE The state Senate has confirmed seven new members of the New Mexico State Fair Commission.
    The appointees of Gov. Bill Richardson were approved on unanimous votes.
    They are:
   
  • Terry Cone, a certified public accountant from Portales, who also farms and ranches.
       
  • Sandy Jones, a rancher from Truth or Consequences.
       
  • Luke Otero, a Santa Fe consultant and lobbyist.
       
  • Frank Tabet of Belen, a retired businessman and former vice-chairman of the State Police Board.
       
  • Bob Frost, a San Jon rancher and past president of the New Mexico Cattlegrowers Association.
       
  • Carol Cloer, an alfalfa farmer from Bloomfield, who is a professor at New Mexico State University and a former high school principal. She is the chairwoman of the commission.
       
  • Rena Salazar, a San Juan Pueblo member and former elementary school teacher, who is a government affairs and educational consultant.