From the Roundhouse: Focusing EffortFebruary 5th, 2013 at 6:18 pm by Alex Goldsmith under N.M. Politics
During a 60-day session, there’s a bill trying to change the law or dish out money in a diverse array of topic areas.
Some lawmakers embrace that diversity of purpose.
House Majority Whip Rep. Moe Maestas, D-Albuquerque, has bills on everything from blocking the sale of meth precursors and better regulating MMA fights in New Mexico to tweaking restaurant liquor licenses and adjusting the film tax credit.
He’s not alone.
But sometimes state lawmakers find a topic they’re passionate about and pursue a comprehensive set of reforms in that one subject area. Second term Rep. Tim Lewis, R-Rio Rancho, is a good example.
Out of the seven bills he’s introduced to this point, four are focused on prostitution and human trafficking.
House Bill 121 would increase penalties for human trafficking. HB 195 would require businesses to post the number for the national human trafficking hotline. HB 196 would make it a misdemeanor to patronize a prostitute, with subsequent offenses drawing a felony charge. HB 295 would close a loophole that prevents an online forum or website from being considered a brothel.
How much success he has will depend on his colleagues, but it’s clear Lewis is going for a focused approach.
There was a lot of talk Monday about raising the statewide minimum wage, with this Senate proposal getting the focus.
Sen. Richard Martinez, D-Española, is sponsoring the Democrat-backed bill that’s touted as being similar to recently passed wage hike in Albuquerque.
Although the headline was that the bill raised New Mexico’s minimum pay per hour to $8.50, and that certainly is the biggest effect, there are some key differences between this bill and what voters approved in the Duke City in November.
One, while Albuquerque’s minimum wage rises every new year with inflation, SB 416 simply hikes the wage and leaves it there. A constitutional amendment being run through the House would add the other piece minimum wage supporters have been known to push for.
Two, while Albuquerque’s minimum wage for tipped workers is set at 45 percent of minimum wage this year before jumping to 60 percent in 2014, SB 416 leaves that rate at $2.13.
SB 416 has two committees to clear and is currently assigned to Senate Public Affairs.