Gov. Susana Martinez pledged Thursday to put at least two non-budget items on the call this coming legislative session. Speaking on a panel with members of the local business community, Martinez said she will allow legislators to introduce bills on changing driver’s licenses and barring mandatory union agency fees as a condition of work, sometimes called right to work. Martinez has made ending New Mexico’s practice of allowing driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants one of her top priorities for five years. But she took a notable shift in her rhetoric about the issue in her comments at the Hyatt Regency Albuquerque, saying for the first time that she’d support a two-tiered system that still allows driver’s permits for undocumented immigrants. “An illegal immigrant should not receive a driver’s license that looks like mine or yours,” Martinez said.
Following a memorial for those lost in the attacks of September 11, union members gathered for a press conference to address issues regarding first responders and collective bargaining. The union members gathered in a conference room in an Albuquerque hotel on Friday afternoon. At issue was a case set to go before the U.S. Supreme Court. Friedrichs v. California Teachers concerns whether union employees are required to pay “fair share.” These are payments from non-union personnel who would benefit from union bargaining. Public sector union members and their supporters have argued that first responders will suffer without a strong collective bargaining unit.
Right-to-work legislation has been and will continue to be a divisive subject during the 2015 Legislative Session. Gov. Susana Martinez has said that she supports it and the House majority has shown they are ready to push right-to-work bills through the committee process. There are a handful of bills in both the House and Senate that would ban employers from requiring their employees to pay union dues or negotiating fees. Defenders of the legislation have said workers deserve the right to choose whether they pay unions or not. Business leaders in New Mexico have said many companies tend to expand into states that have right-to-work laws on the books.