House Committee Tables NM Family And Medical Leave Act
The move to bring mandatory Family and Medical Leave to New Mexico appears dead after being tabled Monday night in the House Commerce and Economic Development Committee.
Democrats Marian Matthews and Patricia Lundstrom joined all the Republicans on the committee to the bill with only days remaining in the session.
SB11 would establish a 12-week paid family leave benefit for all public and private employees in the state, including self-employed persons who opt into the program.
The leave could be used to bond with a newborn child, take measures to protect themselves or family members who are victims of domestic violence, stalking, or sexual assault or provide care for themselves or family members experiencing a serious health condition.
Sponsor Linda Serrato told the committee New Mexico needs to join over a dozen states that have similar legislation.
“We’ve seen it do well in other states, we’ve seen it do well for those families and as a Representative I have to ask ‘Why not in New Mexico?” she said. “I know families that have had family members with terminal illnesses and they had to limit the amount of time they were by their bedside because they had to return to work to keep a roof over their heads. I know families where the mothers were working after giving birth days before.”
But other factors proved to be fatal to the bill including the potential cost. A fiscal impact report by the Legislative Finance Committee that the program could have a deficit of $516 million as early as 2028 and become insolvent.
Supporters disputed those numbers saying they were a worst case scenario.
Also many rural small businesses owners including many near the state border told the committee they would not be able to afford the program and would be forced to close or leave New Mexico if Family and Medical Leave became law.
Supporters say they’ll return next session to try again.