From the Roundhouse: Take a hike

February 1st, 2013 at 6:34 pm by under Latest Posts, Politics

What should the state’s minimum wage be?

It’s a never-ending debate.

A decade ago, the minimum pay per hour in New Mexico was $4.25. Now it’s $7.50 an hour, a quarter higher than the federal minimum wage.

But a number of the state’s cities have taken matters into their own hands. Santa Fe’s minimum wage is scheduled to go to $10.51 an hour, second only to San Francisco’s minimum wage.

Then in November, two-thirds of Albuquerque’s voters approved a wage hike for that city from $7.50 to $8.50.

Both Albuquerque and Santa Fe have automatic annual hikes built into their minimum wage.

But the political fight Albuquerque’s wage hike went through may be indicative of what we could see for any statewide attempt to raise the wage.

In Albuquerque, city council fought tooth and nail to keep the minimum wage hike off the November ballot citing a typo in the petitions that thousands of residents signed.

That battle went all the way to the New Mexico Supreme Court.

While a legal fight isn’t as likely for any statewide effort to raise the minimum wage, a wage hike could have quite a few hurdles.

There are basically two options for Democrats looking for a wage hike through a bill or through a constitutional amendment.

The advantages of working through a bill are that a minimum wage hike could take effect immediately if lawmakers wanted it to. But the disadvantage is that if the bill got to the governor’s desk, the odds are good it would be vetoed.

The advantage of a constitutional amendment is just the opposite. The governor doesn’t have to approve it although voters do. There’s some talk that if a minimum wage hike were on the 2014 ballot, it could help attract more Democratic voters to the polls.

The disadvantage is time. A constitutional amendment has to go on a statewide ballot, something that doesn’t happen until November 2014.

So far, Rep. Miguel Garcia, D-Albuquerque, is trying the constitutional-amendment route with a resolution that would increase the minimum wage annually based on inflation. An attempt at trying to attack the issue through a bill is expected to be introduced Monday at a press conference.

Bill of the DaySB371

Sen. Jacob Candelaria, D-Albuquerque, says your Facebook password isn’t your future boss’s business.

His bill would bar employers from asking for or requiring prospective employees to provide their social media passwords. It doesn’t lay out a specific penalty, but job seekers everywhere could benefit from this prohibition.

SB371 is assigned to the Senate Public Affairs Committee where it’s waiting for a hearing right now.

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