July 21, 2016

Paid sick leave proposal has enough signatures to make ballot

Albuquerque city councilors in May, 2015.

A ballot initiative that would require most Albuquerque employers to provide paid sick leave for employees will head to the City Council after the City Clerk’s office approved more than enough petitions signatures this week.

Healthy Workforce ABQ prepares to deliver petition signatures regarding a paid sick-leave proposal

Andy Lyman

Healthy Workforce ABQ prepares to deliver petition signatures regarding a paid sick-leave proposal

Albuquerque City Clerk Natalie Howard confirmed with NM Political Report on Thursday that  Healthy Workforce ABQ, a group of community advocates turned in at least 14,477 valid petition signatures. Howard said the group turned in more than 18,000 signatures but her office will likely not have to verify any more. Such campaigns typically turn in an excess of signatures in case some are thrown out for being invalid.

Elizabeth Wagoner, an attorney with the New Mexico Center for Law on Poverty, told NM Political Report that the signature confirmation is “definitely a success.”

“The next step is going to make sure the City Council and County Commission do the right thing,” Wagoner said.

The City Council will need to make a decision on whether to move the initiative along at their next meeting on August 1.

City Council President Dan Lewis said the Council will create an election resolution for the August meeting and vote on whether it should move on to the Bernalillo County Clerk and Commission. The County Clerk, according to Lewis, would evaluate whether the initiative would fit on November’s general election ballot. Lewis said it’s not the Council’s job to vote on the merits of the initiative, but instead to vote on whether it should go to voters or not.

“It’s the Council’s role to create an election resolution,” Lewis said.

If the initiative makes it to the ballot and voters approve in November, employers within Albuquerque would be required to provide workers with up to 56 hours of sick leave per year.

If voters approve, Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry would not hold veto power.

Business advocacy groups like the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce have publicly denounced the initiative, saying it would hinder business and represents government overreach.