Legislative Update Feb. 27, 2019
Roosevelt County Chamber's
Feb. 27, 2019
House begins discussion on Democrats' tax overhaul
Democrats have unveiled HB 6 which would raise taxes by a whopping $328 million. The one thing that most business owners wouldn't have any beef with is leveling the playing field with internet businesses by requiring them to charge gross receipts tax. It would restructure income tax for higher earners but some lawmakers are saying that legislators may be giving out pay raises for teachers and state workers with one hand and taking them back with the other. The bill also proposes an increase to the motor vehicle excise tax from 3 percent to 4.2 percent. That would raise about $65 million yet the bill only proposes sending an amount that would equal approximately $37 million back to roads. There are also changes to corporate income taxes aimed at keeping multi-state businesses from dodging state taxes. No mention of lowering those taxes, however so the details are important.
In this year of record state revenue, the Governor and most Democrats are saying they need to raise taxes in order to "stabilize" the state's revenue. We're betting it won't be any more stable with more money because lawmakers have proven this year that as soon as they get extra money they'll spend it.
Minimum wage bills seek compromise
Both competing minimum wage increase bills moved out of the Senate Public Affairs Committee Saturday but not without debate that showed a willingness by both sponsors to compromise. HB 31 supporters agreed to an amendment that would leave the tip floor in place but lock it in at 30 percent of the full minimum wage. The biggest debate, aside from the actual rate would likely concern HB 31's language which would increase the minimum wage automatically with the cost of living.
Right to Work ban passes House
A bill banning counties and municipalities from individually passing right to work ordinances cleared the House floor on party-line votes Friday. Roosevelt County as well as other New Mexico counties passed such an ordinance last year allowing workers to decide if they want to pay union dues.
Ban the Box bill clears Senate
SB 96, nicknamed the "Ban the Box" bill passed the Senate Friday. The bill would make it illegal for an employer to ask for information on criminal history on an initial job application. It appears that employer could still advertise that a background check would be required and that a conviction could disqualify them they just couldn't ask the question on the initial application, only later in the hiring process. Employers and business groups are worried about a provision allowing complaints to be filed against employers by applicants who feel they were wronged could be costly and time consuming for businesses.
Recreational marijuana heads to House floor
For the first time ever the issue of recreational marijuana is headed to a potential floor vote in the House of Representatives. Stronger safeguards for employers to screen employees was added and provisions for individual counties or muncipalities to opt out of the sale of recreational marijuana.
The alternative bill moving through the Senate seeks to set up state run marijuana shops in order to have more control of those who buy. Putting the state in the marijuana business — nothing could go wrong there, right?