How Santa Fe’s legislative “sausage factory” passed a sweeping giveaway to gov’t unions in just 4 days

As the State capital of New Mexico Santa Fe is not known as a manufacturing town and the Legislature is not always know for fast and efficient action, but the Roundhouse (as the capitol building is known) definitely “manufactures” plenty of legislative sausage and can do so rapidly when the political incentives line up.

To outsiders it is often confusing why certain issues make their way through the process and why others that are seemingly very popular (like Social Security tax cuts) do not. Take SB 110 introduced by Sen. Mimi Stewart, a “progressive” union-supported Democrat from Albuquerque who really represents the education bureaucracy and unions in Santa Fe.

Before the 2020 session began we at the Rio Grande Foundation labeled SB 110 “the worst bill of the session.” The bill was a laundry list of new powers and giveaways to government employee labor unions. Making it easier for them to unionize, giving them new benefits, and making it harder for those workers who wish to not be part of the union is the thrust of the legislation.

To make a long story short, in just a few weeks, SB 110 was “tabled” which typically means “killed.” It was resurrected only to be referred to the Senate Finance Committee where John Arthur Smith would have given it a closer look than the unions wanted. Immediately upon that referral the giveaway was dumped into a brand new “dummy bill” HB 364 (analysis here) which rapidly (within just four days) passed through the House and then the Senate. An attempt to refer the bill to Finance was thwarted because “moderate” Democrats in the Senate decided against such a referral which gave the bill an easy path through the Senate and onto the Gov.’s desk where she will presumably sign it.

You can look at the legislative progress (and death) of SB 110 and its fast-moving successor HB 364 here. The usual “good government” media outlets and interest groups are silent.