Friday, February 14, 2014

Is the Minimum Wage Amendment DOA in the House?

The Senate today passed a measure that would allow voters to decide on a proposed state constitutional amendment to increase the state's minimum wage.

The question now is whether Senate Joint Resolution 13 is already dead in the House.

According to the state constitution, to get on the ballot, a proposed amendment must get a majority of elected members of both chambers. In the House, that would be 36 votes.

However, due to the fact that two House Democrats have been unable to attend the current session due to medical problems, Democrats only have 35 votes.

I'm not good at math, but that doesn't look promising. The Dems would have to hold all their members in line and peel off at least one Republican.

House Republican Whip Nate Gentry said his caucus is steadfastly opposed to using the constitution to raise the minimum wage.

The amendment, sponsored by Sen. Richard Martinez, D-EspaƱola, would raise the minimum wage to about $8.30 an hour next year and provide for automatic annual increases based on the inflation rate.

It passed the Senate on a near-party line vote of 24-17. Sen. John Arthur Smith, D-Deming, joined all Senate Republicans in voting against the measure while all other Democrats voted for it.

More in tomorrow's New Mexican.