Corporate Interests Fight Sick Leave Initiative
Last week, a petition was filed with the New Mexico Supreme Court to keep the proposed sick leave initiative off Albuquerque's October ballot. The petition—which was presented to the court by a number of plaintiffs, including the Association of Commerce and Industry, NAIOP-New Mexico (formerly the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties) and the New Mexico Restaurant Association—alleges that the Albuquerque Healthy Workforce Ordinance is in violation of the state constitution. If approved by voters, the Healthy Workforce Ordinance would require all businesses with a physical presence in Albuquerque, regardless of size, to allow their employees to earn paid sick time off. The ordinance would apply to full-time, part-time and temporary employees. Proponents of the initiative say it will relieve workers from choosing between the health of family members or their paycheck, while opponents say it will lead to lost job opportunities and the relocation of businesses. Last month, the Albuquerque Coalition for a Healthy Economy (A.C.H.E.) filed a lawsuit against the city accusing the ordinance of being “voter fraud.” According to attorney Pat Rogers, who represented the plaintiffs in the case, the ordinance is “logrolling on steroids”—a term referring to a quid pro quo, or an exchange of votes between legislators. The suit also alleged that home rule municipalities do not have the power to enact voter-initiated legislation. This accusation was in reference to a provision in the City Charter that allows citizens to bypass the City Council and put issues directly on the ballot. This provision was set in motion by a list of signatures in favor of the ordinance . The A.C.H.E. lawsuit was rejected by State District Judge Shannon Bacon, and Rogers subsequently filed a petition with the state's Supreme Court. Rogers’ petition challenges the portion of the ruling that said state statute and the state constitution allow voter-created initiatives. He argues that there is no constitutional basis nor any statutory authority and that the ordinance should be removed from the ballot. The court has ordered attorneys in the case to file a response to Rogers’ petition no later than Aug. 28. The ordinance is currently slated to appear on the Oct. 3 ballot.