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The Latest: New Mexico may block right-to-work ordinances

February 23, 2019

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The Latest on activity in the New Mexico Legislature (all times local):

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7:10 p.m.

The New Mexico House of Representative is poised to vote on a measure that would prohibit local governments from enacting right-to-work ordinances that prevent employees from being required to join a union or pay union fees.

The bill from Democratic Reps. Daymon Ely of Corrales and Andrea Romero of Santa Fe was scheduled for debate Friday night.

Several counties in New Mexico have approved ordinances that prevent employees from being required to join a union or pay union fees. The proposed legislation asserts the state’s exclusive jurisdiction over the issue. Union leaders contend the local ordinances create confusion and are undermining the labor groups.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled last year that government workers can’t be forced to contribute to labor unions that represent them in collective bargaining. The ruling involved an Illinois state worker who argued that everything unions do, including bargaining with the state, is political and employees shouldn’t be forced to pay for it.

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2:30 p.m.

The New Mexico state Senate has approved a bill that would remove criminal history questions from initial job applications in the private sector.

The Senate voted 28-11 to pass the initiative from Democratic Sen. Bill O’Neill of Albuquerque. The bill moves the House.

A similar bill was vetoed in 2017 by Republican Gov. Susana Martinez. The arrival of Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has opened the door to new criminal-justice reform proposals that stress rehabilitation.

Under the new bill, private employers may take prior convictions into consideration after an initial review of the job application and a discussion of employment.

Similar “ban-the-box” regulations that eliminate prior convictions from check lists on job applications have been adopted in at least 11 states that include California, Illinois and Washington.

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