2018 Challenges in the New Mexico Legislature

Date: May 09, 2017

Uniformity in statewide employment law a top priority

The Legislature reconvenes for a 30-day session January 16, 2018, to refine the state budget. NFIB will be monitoring it closely for any surprise moves on a variety of issues that small business expects to surface in 2019 and which NFIB is ready to fight for or against.

Fighting Abuse of the Americans With Disabilities Act
Some lawyers in New Mexico and other states across the nation are using the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 to shake down small-business owners for the most minor violations. Numerous NFIB members have been stung by these ‘pay up and we’ll drop the suit’ scams.

In some states, hundreds to thousands of cases have flooded state courts, filed by the same law firms (the ADA is a federal law that can be adjudicated in state court). NFIB/New Mexico will reach out to the disability rights’ community and key legislators to develop laws that are fair and workable. 

NFIB and its members are committed to ensuring that businesses are more accessible to the disabled. Unfortunately, frivolous lawsuits have had disastrous consequences on small businesses.

Advocating for Statewide Employment Law Uniformity
NFIB strongly supports prohibiting New Mexico cities and counties from creating a patchwork of laws to regulate the hours, scheduling or leave that would be difficult for small businesses to manage. NFIB also backs legislation barring state entities contracting with private-sector employers mandating paid or unpaid leave, fringe benefits or other benefits.

Pushing the Continuation of Workers’ Compensation Reform
NFIB continues to be out in front on legislation impacting employers. As New Mexico’s higher courts send down opinions eroding the system, we will continue fighting to strengthen reforms with productive and fair legislation, especially as it relates to workplace safety and insurance coverage costs including paying for workers’ medical marijuana.

Opposing Paid Leave Legislation
The good news is that the vast majority of businesses already offer paid or unpaid time off, and for any reason the employee chooses: sickness, care for a family member, parental duties, personal or family member victim of domestic violence, etc. (see infographic here). Also, the federal Family and Medical Leave Act “provides certain employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year. It also requires that their group health benefits be maintained during the leave.”

Additional state mandates could do more harm than good. As NFIB continues to point out, unlike the heads of corporations, small-business owners know personally each of their employees and their families, and most offer paid time off on a case-by-case basis, providing the employee what he or she needs in a way the business can afford. Mandatory paid leave would only impose unnecessary limitations on these businesses. Such initiatives assume one size fits all. In the small-business world, what works in one company could be detrimental for the next. The rigid nature of mandated paid leave often has a negative impact on employee morale. Three other points NFIB reminds policymakers of are:

  • Big businesses and huge corporations have full-time legal and human resource departments to deal with local, state, and federal rules and regulations. Small businesses do not.
  • Small businesses already pay 30 percent more per employee than big businesses do to comply with the same regulations * Employee replacement costs can be a big issue for small-business owners when an employee goes on paid leave.
  • A worker taking extended time off leaves a hole that has to be filled by other staff working overtime or by finding, hiring, and training a new temporary employee as a replacement—both of which are direct costs to the business.

For more information on how devastating paid leave could be, the Research Foundation of NFIB took a detailed look at a federal proposal, using sophisticated BSIM modeling (Business Size Insight Module). State paid-leave mandates on top of federal ones only exacerbate the already difficult jobs small-business owners have in keeping their doors open and New Mexicans employed.

Working Against State-Run Retirement Plans
Legislators in some states are pushing for a state-run retirement plan for private-sector employees. This issue has also come up in discussions in The Roundhouse. When asked on their 2017 ballot if this was a good idea, NFIB/New Mexico members were adamant, 79 percent saying ‘No,’ only 14 percent in favor. Small business believes many private options for retirement savings are amply available and It is not something the state needs to involve itself in. Furthermore, new federal rules could hold an employer financially responsible when investing an employee’s money if an employee determines that the employer was not diligent enough.

Urging a Super Majority Vote to Increase Taxes
“The absence of a major tax is a common factor among many of the top ten states,” says the nonpartisan Tax Foundation. “Property taxes and unemployment insurance taxes are levied in every state, but there are several states that do without one or more of the major taxes: the corporate income tax, the individual income tax, or the sales tax.  New Mexico continues to phase in corporate income tax rate reductions, with the rate scheduled to drop to 5.9 percent by 2018. This year’s reduction, from 6.9 to 6.6 percent, did not improve the state’s rank, but as the rate continues to decline, these reforms will enhance the state’s standing in comparison to its neighbors and further improve its corporate tax component score.”

NFIB will continue its efforts to push for reform that requires a two-thirds vote in both the Senate and House in order to pass a tax increase.

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