Business community raises concern over legislation

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce President Terri Cole is raising concerns about a number of bills making their way through the state legislature that she believes are not “business-friendly”.

“Well, I have to reflect on the fact that businesses are on shaky grounds right now, and especially our small business community. Many of them have closed and many of them will close,” Cole said.

“If all of this passes, New Mexico will be perceived to be anti-business, overly regulated, litigious environment as we try to come out of this,” she added.

Cole is specifically worried about the effects of bills that would increase the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour, force all employers to pay for sick leave, create new mandatory paid family and medical leave requirements, increase income tax for the state’s highest earners and raise taxes on doctors—which could allow for larger lawsuit awards against health care providers.

“We are simply trying to find that balance. We have said, for example, we support a paid sick leave policy, we support a family leave policy, we want to be able, however, to be a stakeholder, negotiating a compromise as opposed to being shut out completely from any negotiation whatsoever,” Cole said.

However, State Rep. Javier Martinez (D-Albuquerque) disagrees with Cole, saying that the legislature is working on a blend of bills that aim to help working families and local businesses.

“I’m not sure where Ms. Cole is getting her information, but the fact on the ground are very different from her reality,” Rep. Martinez said.

The representative pointed to a number of “business-friendly” bills that would provide grants for small businesses, expand zero to low interests loans for businesses, create more than 11,000 jobs through the legalization of recreational cannabis, allow bars and restaurants to deliver alcohol, and give bars and restaurants a four-month gross receipts tax holiday.

“These are the things that we have been doing over the last three weeks to really push and incentivize our economy and support businesses in New Mexico,” said Rep. Martinez.