The 2015 New Mexico Legislative Session was marked with partisan divides. Both Democrats and Republicans left the session pointing fingers and placing blame across the aisle. A rare exception to the lose-lose scenario was a Republican-sponsored bill aimed at reforming the state’s Forfeiture Act. HB 560, sponsored by Rep. Zach Cook, R-Ruidoso, addresses a national concern about police seizing money or property from individuals without the conviction of a crime. While the bill passed both the House and Senate without a single dissenting vote, some committee members wondered if asset forfeiture is a problem in New Mexico.
The House Judiciary Committee is set to debate the Employee Preference Act, also known as the right-to-work bill. Talking points in the right-to-work debate have included references to studies about the effectiveness, or lack thereof depending on which study you read, of right-to-work. The Rio Grande Foundation, a free-market think tank based in Albuquerque, commissioned a study on right-to-work that the group said shows right-to-work is effective. The study has since come under fire for what critics say are its inaccuracies. Dr. Tamara Kay, a professor in the Sociology Department of the University of New Mexico, spoke at an event earlier this year about what she said were improper techniques to gather and report the data.
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.
House Committee members were part of a marathon committee meeting on Thursday that ultimately ended with an 8-5 vote to pass a right-to-work bill. Rep. Dennis Roch, R-Logan, presented his HB 75 to the House Business and Employment Committee in a hearing that lasted nearly five hours. The bill would bar employers from requiring union membership from employees as a term of employment. Along with Roch were Lt. Gov. John Sanchez and his expert witness Paul Gessing, the director of the free-market think tank, the Rio Grande Foundation. Sanchez told the committee he was there on behalf of Gov. Susana Martinez and insisted that right-to-work legislation is not an attempt to disband unions, but instead to help New Mexico workers.
[box type=”info” style=”rounded”]PAUL GESSING is president of New Mexico’s Rio Grande Foundation, an independent, non-partisan, tax-exempt research and educational organization dedicated to promoting prosperity for New Mexico based on principles of limited government, economic freedom and individual responsibility.[/box]
Santa Fe’s ban on plastic bags isn’t making the city greener. Less than a year after formally implemented the ban, the City Council is now looking for a more effective solution. As recent studies have shown, instead of bringing reusable bags on their shopping trips, Santa Fe citizens have simply traded plastic for paper – nullifying the law’s sustainability objectives. In the months following Santa Fe’s bag ban, the Environmental Services Division surveyed local retailers on its effects. After two months, 97 percent of stores reported that less than one percent of customers were bringing their own reusable bags.