Over the protests of Republican members, a so-called right-to-work bill, House Bill 75 (HB 75), today was referred to Senate committees by the Democratic majority in accordance with the chamber’s standard procedure. Republican senators introduced an unusual motion to circumvent the normal process by which bills are sent to committee. Instead they sought to have the legislation taken up by the full Senate. Democratic senators defeated the rarely-invoked motion by a vote of 17-25 along party lines. The Senate Public Affairs Committee (SPAC) is expected to hold a hearing on Sunday to afford the public an opportunity to speak about HB 75, and to debate it and similar bills.
“Short-circuiting the normal committee process shuts out the public from our debates on this important issue. That is wrong,” said Sen. Michael S. Sanchez (D-29-Bernalillo & Valencia). “Bills are heard in committee so that the people can come and speak their minds and be heard on issues that affect their lives. That is the heart of democracy. The committee process also importantly allows senators to weigh the pros and cons of complex issues like this one in a deliberative way.”
Workers make on average of $7,000 less each year in states that enact these laws than workers in states that protect workers’ economic security. Quality of life is worse for all working people in those states, too: higher poverty levels, fewer people with health insurance through their employers, and public education funding is weaker. Working people in New Mexico already have some of the lowest median incomes in the nation – the experience of other states indicates that wages here would decline even further if HB 75 were passed.
“Republican strategists were trying to pull a Washington-style stunt to push the radical agenda of out-of-state billionaires on New Mexico. That’s who is behind these anti-worker bills, with the collaboration of Governor Martinez and Republicans,” said Senator Jacob Candelaria (D- 26 – Bernalillo).
“HB 75 and related anti-worker bills in the Legislature are packaged as a great economic tool by the Governor and others, but in reality they are a smoke-screen for the failed economic policies of the last four years. Site location professionals call these kind of measures ‘old thinking’, and not an important factor in business relocation decisions,” added Sen. Sanchez.