From the Roundhouse: A 2014 Vote

March 5th, 2013 at 7:24 am by under Latest Posts, Politics

Votes in the 2013 session can sometimes be made with an eye on 2014.

That appears to be the case on a statewide minimum wage hike on the Senate floor that was the talk of the day Monday.

SB 416 would raise the minimum wage from $7.50 to $8.50 an hour. It’s a key part of the Democratic platform for the 2013 session.

It’s also an issue that can energizes voters. In Albuquerque last November, two-thirds of city voters approved a citywide minimum wage hike.

During the floor debate, Sen. George Munoz, D-Gallup, made a speech that would’ve indicated he was going to vote “no”. Sen. John Arthur Smith, D-Deming, pitched an illegal “statement” amendment that would’ve forced Albuquerque and Santa Fe to raise their minimum wage rates by the same percentage the rest of the state would have to.

Yet when it finally came time to vote, both Senators were on board with the rest of their fellow Democrats. SB 416 passed on a 25-17 party-line vote.

This is an interesting vote on two fronts. One, the frequently fractured Democrats banded together. That’s the first true party-line vote for a bill this session I could find.

The second reason is a bit of political gamesmanship. If the House passes the bill, it forces Governor Martinez to make a tough decision. Most of her supporters, her base and her party in general are vehemently opposed to a minimum wage hike.

But the Albuquerque vote is an indicator that a veto on minimum wage may not help her with the electorate as a whole.

This tough decision appears to be causing the Governor’s office to handle the topic with a light touch.

Despite several attempts to try to find out whether the Governor would sign or veto the minimum wage hike, there hasn’t been a clear answer provided.

Some Democrats I’ve spoken to believe forcing the Governor’s hand could help their prospects in the 2014 election.

While it’s not totally clear, that political calculus could’ve played a role in swaying any Democrats who were on the fence about a minimum wage hike to stick with the party this time around.

Bill of the Day

HB 87

Rep. Brian Egolf’s, D-Santa Fe, bill is part of a larger push this session to crack down on drivers with ignition interlock licenses.

HB 87 would prohibit any driver with an ignition interlock license from buying alcohol. New interlock licenses would have a special line making it clear that buying alcohol with the license is not allowed.

HB 87 passed the House 59-5 Monday and heads to the Senate.

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