According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about eight percent (8%) of New Mexico’s workforce belongs to unions – some whether they choose to or not. Given that small number, the unions’ disproportionate influence over many state legislators meant passing a bill that many Senators seemed to understand was wrong and an abuse of power.
We appreciate the points made by several Senators on the bill’s flaws and the hypocrisy of the Senate to take selective action against counties on Right to Work (RTW) when they did not take similar action on other employment-related issues. We applaud the three Democrats who evaluated the bill and joined all 16 Republicans who voted against it. No matter what you think about RTW, HB 85 is bad policy and appears to violate the New Mexico state Constitution in three ways:
1) Dealing with the retroactive portion of the bill to take away the Counties’ decision on RTW: Article 2, Section 19, “No ex post facto law, bill of attainder nor law impairing the obligation of contracts shall be enacted by the legislature.”
2) Dealing with the selective preemption against RTW and not any other employment issue: Article 4, Section 24, “the legislature shall not pass local or special laws in any of the following cases: regulating county, precinct or district affairs[.]”; and
3) Dealing with the fact that there is ongoing litigation over this matter in Sandoval County: Article 4, Section 34, “no act of the legislature shall affect the right or remedy of either party, or change the rules of evidence or procedure, in any pending case.”
But during the Senate Public Affairs Committee discussion, it was especially alarming to hear a Senator state that they routinely ignore the language in the constitution at will in order to do their job. Shouldn’t their job be first to honor the state constitution? Here’s the Senate floor vote.
Bill opponents said during the debate that this was another example of state lawmakers ignoring elected officials in certain areas of the state. Sen. Baca said it tells those communities that their views don’t matter and Sen Kernan said there are areas of the state that are sick and tired of it.