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Past New Mexico Legislative Victories

Author: Tony Malandra Date: October 28, 2014

From the 2011-2012 Session

Helped lower unemployment insurance taxes
It took up until the last night of the session for legislative leaders and the governor to agree on a plan lowering what employers pay into the system. Senate Bill 32 reduced contributions from the current Schedule 3 to Schedule 1 until the end of 2012, and if needed, limited the 2013 increase to Schedule 2.

Supported legislation to begin toppling gross receipts tax pyramiding
The governor signed legislation making a significant number of business-to-business transactions within the construction and manufacturing sectors exempt from gross receipts taxes. House Bill 184 is considered the “phase one” move in addressing the pyramiding problem. NFIB continually reminded legislators that expansion is important to small businesses in other sectors.

Defeated minimum increase constitutional amendment
A proposal asking voters choose to link the state’s minimum-wage rate to the Consumer Price Index stalled upon arrival at the House of Representatives, following a serious campaign highlighted by written messages to every House member from NFIB encouraging opposition.   Had it gone to the voters and passed, House Joint Resolution 28 would have required that minimum wage rates annually increase with the rate of inflation. Although the measure was on the calendar, there was no debate on it.

Stopped slight-of-hand tax increases
Following NFIB testimony, the Senate Corporations Committee stopped a proposal for across-the-board increases in personal income, capital gains and motor vehicle excise taxes, in exchange for a limited gross receipts tax credit. The legislation, Senate Bill 74, would have allowed for “up to” $13,000 in business-to-business gross receipts tax break by multiple percentage tax increases.

Secured seat on the Governor’s Small Business Task Force
The seat on this task force allows NFIB/New Mexico to present our members' perspectives and advise the administration on legislative initiatives and state regulatory policy until 2014.

Defeated tax increases on capital gains
House Bill 571 made the alluring promise of eliminating the cap on capital gains deductions, but NFIB encouraged lawmakers to look behind the curtain and see that it would in effect cut the deduction rate from 50 percent to 25 percent instead.

Won new health-care cooperative
NFIB supported passage of Senate Bill 89 which will allow small and large businesses to come together in a cooperative to create a purchasing group for health insurance. This new law opens up one more free-market avenue to medical coverage.

Stopped potential for badly designed health-care exchange
Another attempt to broaden health-care choices was Senate Bill 38/370, creating a health-care exchange. It passed the both houses of the Legislature, but armed with a letter requesting a veto from NFIB, Governor Martinez said ‘No.’ The fatal flaw of the bill, NFIB argued, concerned how health plans would be chosen. The language set the stage for limiting options, which could create a mandate-heavy and costly health plan as the only choice. NFIB/New Mexico together with NFIB in Washington D.C. structured letter urging the governor’s veto and the offering small businesses’ assistance in crafting solutions to better fit the needs of small business. 

Killed attempt to restrict credit information
Senate Bill 72, which would have restricted employers from using credit information in employment decisions, was successfully defeated at its first hearing before the Senate Corporations Committee.

2010 Victories

Defeated  12 tax-increase proposals
NFIB had an especially good working relationship with the Senate Corporations Committee in killing tax-increase proposals, including ones to raise personal income, capital gains, and estate taxes. NFIB helped put together a bipartisan group of Senators who voted against these economy-killing proposals. This didn’t stop an emergency special session of the Legislature from eventually raising them, but it did help contribute to blunting their impact. In the end, lawmakers could only get away with an increase in cigarette taxes, a boost of an eighth-of-a-cent in the gross receipts tax, permitting local governments the ability to tax food, the loss of itemized deductions for local and other state taxes, and tax increases on businesses based outside of New Mexico

Beat back legislation to implement carbon-cap regulation
We were successful in stopping a legislative proposal creating draconian carbon-cap emissions restrictions and handing over the authority from the legislature to the Environmental Improvement Board to create and implement state level climate change policy. This would have resulted in not only higher energy prices, but also job loss and economic development disadvantages for the state.

Won open government legislation showing how government spends your money
NFIB worked for passage of The Sunshine Portal Transparency Act provides for the development of a free public access web site by the Department of Information Technology (DoIT) and the Department of Finance and Administration (DFA) no later than July 1, 2011. The web site would provide interested parties access to how state government agencies spend their revenues, who state agencies employ and at what cost, what loans the state board of finance makes and what capital projects the legislature funds and how much has been spent. It also requires links New Mexico statutes, and the Administrative Code, the Secretary of State’s web site for lobbyist, open meetings tracker. DoIT would be required to post an annual summary of the state’s fiscal health three months after the end of the state fiscal year. 

Helped stabilize the unemployment insurance system
Legislation was enacted that minimally raises the unemployment compensation contribution by employers having a positive balance in their reserve account of at least 1%. The contribution increases for the period7/1/10 through 12/31/10. The UI fund has essentially been depleted by the high number of New Mexicans who lost their job this past year.  However, if not implemented, the unemployment compensation fund would become insolvent next January forcing the state to obtain an advance from the U.S. Dept. of Labor to make unemployment compensation payments. Also, if this bill failed, the department would have been required by law to trigger contribution Schedule 6, an increase of over $350 per employee and employers also would also face increased federal unemployment taxes.

2009 NFIB/New Mexico Legislative Victories

Killed 12 tax-increase proposals, including ones to raise personal income and corporate rates to raise

During the 2009 Session, 12 tax bills were introduced, including two to raise personal income and corporate rates.  NFIB succeeded in holding Gov. Bill Richardson to his word not to boost tax rates. But tax increases are a panic button politicians like to push in a recession. NFIB expects the legislature once again to put tax increases on the Governor’s table.

Stopped a plan to impose a government-run healthcare system in New Mexico

As expected, all the healthcare bills from the 2008 legislative session surfaced again in 2009, including one calling for the establishment of a government-run, universal healthcare system in New Mexico. NFIB persuaded some lawmakers to look at pooling options and other market-based solutions, and in the end this made a difference in stopping the state’s takeover of the issue.

Prevented passage of a minimum wage bill that would have tied future increases to the Consumer Price Index

NFIB helped defeat a bill that would have provided for automatic annual increases in the state’s minimum wage based on increases in the Consumer Price Index.  This legislation would have been detrimental to New Mexico job growth and small businesses start-ups.


Defeated a proposal to require all pass-through entities to withhold taxes on all payments

The state’s tax department proposed to shift the burden of payment of certain taxes from the State to businesses.  By doing so, the department estimated $40 million in additional revenues could be recouped.  It was proposed that any pass-through entities -- generally partnerships, LLCs, and sole proprietors -- be required to withhold not only taxes on the compensation but also on other pass-through monies as well. The withholding payments would have been made quarterly. The individual taxpayer would still have been required to pay estimated monthly payments to offset the difference of the withholding and other income sources.  NFIB worked with other business groups to defeat this proposal.  We will keep a watchful eye in case this proposal resurfaces.

Beat back a proposed change in the gross receipts tax on professional services

NFIB stopped Senate Bill 283 from passing. The measure would have changed the Tax Administration Act to require architects, engineers, attorneys, and accounting professionals to pay gross receipts in the location at which the service was rendered, not at the location of the professional business where the services were performed.

Defeated statewide minimum wage increase, keeping New Mexico's small businesses competitive with surrounding states

The legislature and Gov. Bill Richardson proposed raising the state minimum wage to $7.50. This increase would have put New Mexico small businesses at a disadvantage against out-of-state competitors. It would also have encouraged New Mexico small businesses to move out of state.

Cut income and capital gains taxes, saving small-business owners $360 million

NFIB/New Mexico helped pass $360 million in cuts in both income and capital gains taxes. The move cuts the top individual income tax rate from 8.2 percent to 4.9 percent over five years; it also cuts capital gains taxes by 50 percent. Tax situations vary; however, a single business owner with $200,000 in taxable income could save $4,600 per year when this is fully implemented. A married owner at the same taxable income would save about $1,600.

Defeated single-payer, government-run health care system, keeping health-care decisions in the hands of small-business owners

Proposals have called for all insurance payments -- individual and business premiums, Medicare and Medicaid payments, and state and local government premiums -- to go into a "pot" to be used by state government to pay for all medical costs. This would create a government-controlled health-care system similar to that of Canada or Cuba. Experience elsewhere indicates the government always raises premiums or rations services under this type of system. 

Limited state government's eminent domain authority

The U.S. Supreme Court Kelo decision confirmed government authority to condemn private property for use of economic development. The Supreme Court, in the same case, recognized the right of state legislatures to limit that authority in their own states. NFIB helped pass legislation to limit the eminent domain authority of state and local governments in the last legislative session.

Cut income and capital gains taxes by $360 million

NFIB/New Mexico helped pass $360 million in cuts in both income and capital gains taxes. The move cuts the top individual income tax rate from 8.2 percent to 4.9 percent over five years; it also cuts capital gains taxes by 50 percent.
 

Defeated single-payer, government-run health-care system

Every year proposals are introduced to establish this costly and ineffective health-care system. Proposals have called for all insurance payments -- individual and business premiums, Medicare and Medicaid payments, and state and local government premiums -- to go into a "pot" to be used by state government to pay for all medical costs in the state (state government becomes the "single payer"). 

Blocked a five-cent per gallon gasoline tax

The legislature rejected, by a single vote, a proposal to increase the gasoline tax by five cents per gallon for 10 years. NFIB's lobbying efforts helped swing several votes on this critical issue. This bill, if passed, would have had significant impact on NFIB members who rely on delivery or service vehicles.


 Prior Years' Victories
 

VICTORY: The 2003 Legislature enacted a major income tax cut supported by NFIB. The new law cuts the top income tax rate from 8.2 percent to 4.9 percent and cuts capital gains taxes by 50 percent. The new rates will be phased in over five years. The total tax cut will be $360 million per year when it is fully implemented. The lower top rate makes New Mexico competitive with Arizona and Colorado for the first time.


 

VICTORY: Vigorous opposition from NFIB/New Mexico helped kill a bill that would have gutted New Mexico's employment-will-law. The "Paycheck Protection Act" would have prohibited employers from laying off employees if the economy worsened, or if competitive conditions created economic hardship.


 

New Governor Bill Richardson has promised to cut taxes, and NFIB is working hard to ensure that any changes in the tax system benefit the small business community.


 

HOT BUTTON: The New Mexico Legislature is considering a bill that would cut New Mexico income taxes by $84 million. The bill would remove several thousand low-income New Mexicans from the tax rolls entirely and reduce the top income tax rate from 8.2 percent to l7.9 percent.


 

VICTORY: Vigorous opposition from NFIB/New Mexico helped kill the Paycheck Protection Act. The bill would have prohibited you from laying off employees if the economy turned down or of you faced increased competition. The bill would have gutted New Mexico's employment-at-will law.


 

2001:

Employee Relations: The legislature killed identical bills introduced in the House and Senate by Rep. Ray Ruiz (D-Albuquerque) and Sen. Linda Lopez (D-Albuquerque).


 

The "Paycheck Protection Act" would have prohibited firing from firing employees for any reason other then job performance. Employers could not have laid off employees because of a business downturn caused by a poor economy, a new competitor or loss of a major customer.


 

The "Job Protection Act" would have required employers to give employees 180 days notice and job retraining if their jobs were transferred to "low wage" countries.


 

2000:

Unemployment Insurance Rates Cut: An unemployment Insurance rate cut of $31 million, an NFIB priority for the session, was signed into law by Gov. Gary Johnson.


 

Catastrophic Care Health Insurance: An NFIB-sponsored "catastrophic care" health insurance bill designed to lower costs for small businesses was introduced and passed the House.


 

Minimum Wage Increase: Gov. Gary Johnson vetoed a bill sponsored by Sen. Phil Maloof (D-Albuquerque) and opposed by NFIB, which would have increased the state minimum wage from the present $4.25 per hour to $6.15 by July 1, 2003. Gov. Johnson had vetoed a similar bill, also sponsored by Sen. Maloof, after the 1999 legislative session.


 

Family Leave: NFIB also helped kill a bill allowing parents to draw Unemployment Insurance benefits for up to one year to take care of new children.


 

1999:

Single Payer Health System: Quick action by NFIB members helped kill a bill that would have made the state the sole-source provider of health care insurance in New Mexico.


 

Mental Health Parity: NFIB discussions with Governor Gary Johnson resulted in a veto of a mental health parity insurance coverage mandate.


 

Minimum Wage Increase: Governor Gary Johnson vetoed a bill sponsored by Senator Phil Maloof (D-Albuquerque) and opposed by NFIB/NM increasing the state minimum wage to $6.15 per hour by July 1, 2002. Also, the Senate Corporations Committee killed a "living wage" bill sponsored by Senator Linda Lopez (D-Albuquerque) that would have raised the state minimum wage to $9 per hour.


 

1998:

Labor Unions: Rep. Kip Nicely (R-Albuquerque) introduced a bill to prohibit labor unions from using dues money for political purposes without the prior approval of union members. The bill required written authorization from union members and creation of a separate political action committee account for political expenditures by unions. The bill died on its first hearing in the House Labor committee.


 

Unemployment Insurance: An Unemployment Insurance rate cut bill, sponsored by NFIB member Rep. Jerry Sandal (D-San Juan), resulted in $40 million in savings for New Mexico businesses. The bill cut rates by 33 percent to 66 percent over two years, with a long-term 10 percent reduction.


 

1997:

Whistleblower Protection: The legislature, with help from NFIB/New Mexico, killed the Whistleblower Protection Act sponsored by Rep. Max Coll (D-Santa Fe). The bill would have prohibited businesses from firing employees who reported their employer for violating a law or regulation. The bill would not have required the report to be true, and would have even protected reports made directly to the news media.


 

1996:

Minimum Wage: NFIB, supporting the power of the marketplace to set wages, helped kill an increase in the state minimum wage.

 

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