Mandatory paid leave passed last night at Bernalillo County Commission. The vote was 3-2 with Commissioner Pyskotty ultimately deciding to vote against the proposal along with Commissioner Talbert (the only Republican on the Commission).
Notably, the County never completely complied with our requests for public records to find out what communications the public had sent to the Commission on this issue and what various interest groups on both sides had done in terms of working directly with the Commission to shape the ordinance. The public was left in the dark.
The final ordinance (available here) was “improved” in a few ways with an administrative process and a phase-in process, but there are several fundamental problems with the ordinance:
- Enforcement and compliance will both be the largest issues. The County does not have the expertise or resources to enforce the ordinance and it will be difficult for certain businesses with operations in and out of the unincorporated part of the County to comply;
- The biggest impact will be felt by the smallest businesses that have to divert their attention from managing their business to complying with the new ordinance. Detailed records and addressing complaints are not what they are in business to do. The harm will not be obvious as these businesses are small and their closure or movement is not newsworthy;
- The ordinance is STILL written in ways that reflect its origins as paid sick leave mandate. Workers can use their leave at virtually any time without notice and for any reason. That makes sense for sick employees, not for what amounts to paid vacations.
Government needs to stay away from one-size-fits-all mandates and intervention in the relationship between workers and their employers. Unfortunately, I suspect the next step is a similar proposal from Albuquerque City Council to further make the area inhospitable as a business location.