July 16, 2019

A Few Legislation Updates

SB 106 “AirBnB” Lodgers’s Tax Bill has been sent to the Governor’s desk.

On the “Rocket Docket”, SB 106 which was vetoed last year, has already passed the Senate and passed the House Thursday, January 31, on a vote of 56-9. The Chamber has strongly supported this measure both in this and past sessions.

The bill will eliminate the exemption from lodgers tax for those renting one or two rooms for less than 30 days, thus requiring all short term room rentals (VRBO, AirBnB, Booking.com, etc.) owners/providers to pay the same tax as all of the licensed resorts, hotels, and property management businesses. The lodger’s tax is used by communities mainly for tourism marketing. Web platforms like AirBnB have already agreed to collect the tax. This bill is now on the 4th floor for consideration/signature by Governor Lujan Grisham.

Minimum Wage Bills We Are Watching

We do believe a minimum wage bill will be passed this year. The question is, which one?

HB 31: The House Commerce and Economic Development Committee gave a do-pass on a party line 5-4 vote to HB 31, Friday. This bill would raise the minimum wage to $10/hour in July 2019, $11.00 in 2020 then $12.00 in 2021. The wage rate would then be indexed to grow in line with the national consumer price index for urban consumers (CPI-U) every year thereafter. There is no cap in the legislation on the percentage by which the wage rate could rise in a given year. The bill would also end the practice of exempting tipped workers. Before the final vote, the committee hearing turned into a marathon, with dozens of advocates and opponents testifying for hours before the committee even began debate on the bill. Finally, three hours after the sponsors first sat at the table, the committee took a vote and rolled all other legislation on the day’s schedule to this week. HB 31 now goes to the House floor.

HB 46: This bill would increase the minimum wage to $15.00 an hour effective Jan. 1, 2020. Then, starting January 1, 2021 and continuing January 1 of each succeeding year, there would be yearly cost-of-living increases based on the U.S. Department of Labor’s Consumer Price Index (CPI). HB 46 caps these yearly increases at four percent in any given year. It does not authorize decreases in the minimum wage if there are decreases in the cost of living and it eliminates the separate minimum wage for tipped employees, who will be entitled to the minimum wage of $15 per hour regardless of tips received. This bill also requires the workforce solutions department (WSD) to publish by November 1 of each year the adjusted minimum wage rate that will take effect the following January 1. This bill has yet to be heard in committee and no scheduled hearings as of today.

SB 437: This bill would would raise the state’s minimum wage to $10/hour by April of 2020, after which the Legislature and Governor would have the ability to revisit the matter to determine if further increases are warranted. The minimum wage would not be indexed, meaning that it would not rise automatically over time, as is indicated by HB 31. It would raise the minimum wage for tipped workers to $3.00/hour (from $2.13) and create a new minimum wage for students regularly enrolled in high school of $8.50/hour, asked for by the Restaurant Association, for the hiring of tipped workers and students. It’s important for students to continue to have access to entry-level positions in our state, and this bill would ensure that the higher minimum wage doesn’t crowd them out of our workforce. The first hearing of this bill has yet to be scheduled.

Voter Rights Bill Agreement to Elect President by Popular Vote

HB 55 allows New Mexico to enter into a multi-state compact to award states presidential electors to the winner of the national vote. The Secretary of State shall determine which presidential and vice presidential candidates received the most nationwide votes and certify the appointment of electors for those candidates.The compact would take effect when states possessing a majority of the electoral votes (270) have joined the compact. HB 55 passed the house on Friday, Feb. 1 on a vote of 41-27

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