“Preemption” – Progressive wins in New Mexico cities may be at risk at the state level

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The Las Cruces City Council seated its new and re-elected members today and, in a flourish of newly proposed business, showed what a dedicated panel of progressive leaders can accomplish when working together.

In their first session, the newly seated council saw returning Progressive Champion Gill Sorg be elected unanimously as the new Mayor pro-tem, signaling a shift away from registered Independent Greg Smith who’s held the post for the last two years. Sorg also went on to introduce proposals that the council take up a resolution in support of the Legislature legalizing recreational cannabis as well as a measure to bolster support for immigrants living in Las Cruces.

Las Cruces City Council has two new Progressive Champions, Gabe Vasquez (far right) and Yvonne Flores (second on left) joining returning councilor and new Mayor pro-tem Gill Sorg

Major cities in New Mexico are “home rule cities” which allow citizens to directly shape their cities in important ways — the most prominent being the use of citizen-led ballot initiatives. This rule has been an extremely important tool for progressive voters to move New Mexico forward.

Las Cruces instituted a progressive Minimum Wage law that has helped workers get closer to a living wage in the absence of state or federal action over the last eight years. Albuquerque voters narrowly lost out on achieving paid family leave via a ballot initiative just this year.

But there are those in the New Mexico legislature who have sought to undermine these important home rule ordinances by using “preemption” bills that would start chipping away at the right for citizens to have a direct say in the democratic process. Just this year, SB 415 sought to undermine labor laws specifically to undermine issues like minimum wage and paid family leave.

As 2017 comes to a close and New Mexico heads into its final legislative session before next year’s midterm elections, there will likely be further “preemption” bills pushed forward to attempt to stifle progress at the state level.

ProgressNow New Mexico is proud to see our Progressive Champions in cities like Las Cruces and Albuquerque getting down to the people’s business so quickly while the momentum is strong. We will all need to keep working together to protect workers, women, and the rights of citizens across the state going into 2017.