New Mexico will not become the nation’s 29th “right-to-work” state, at least not this year. After testimony Saturday from a long line of union members and nearly two hours of debate, Democrats on a committee of the state House of Representatives killed a Republican bill that would have prohibited unions from imposing mandatory fees on workers. Republicans argue such policies take money from workers who do not wish to join a union. Republican lawmakers also say banning compulsory union fees would create a better business environment, drawing investors and boosting employment. Opponents counter that such a law would push down wages and unfairly require labor unions to represent workers for free.
In a room with about 100 people—a mix of students and older adults—Gary Johnson signs pocket constitutions, takes selfies with young people and literally kisses the cheek of at least one child. Johnson just finished an hour-long forum at the University of New Mexico hosted by the Young Americans for Liberty. Some of the older people in the crowd ask about his family and reminisce about his tenure as the governor of New Mexico in the mid to late 1990s. “There were no pizza parties,” one woman says, smugly referring to an event in Santa Fe involving beer bottles thrown off a hotel balcony and a possibly intoxicated Gov. Susana Martinez. This piece also appeared in the April 20 edition of the ABQ Free Press.
If approved into law, the latest push for creating independent ethics commission would be the culmination of a decade of efforts to combat corruption in New Mexico. But if history is any guide, the road to agreement could still be long and rocky. Update: Add this one to the list of failed attempts: The legislation died in the Senate Rules Committee on Tuesday morning. This piece continues as originally written below. The impetus came in a mirror image to the current situation, just a decade earlier.
On the 35th anniversary of the Santa Fe State Penitentiary riot, the state House and Senate each remembered the riot, known as one of the largest in United States history. The House and Senate each passed memorials remembering the riot, which some said were long overdue. The riot took place on February 2, 1980. A total of 33 inmates were killed, many brutally, and a dozen corrections officers were taken hostage. Overcrowding and other conditions at the prison were blamed for causing the riot.