New Mexico governor signs bill to require paid sick leave

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed legislation Thursday requiring that employers throughout the state provide paid sick leave to workers.

Signed Thursday, the Democrat-sponsored legislation ensures that employees accrue an hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, up to 64 hours of leave annually.

The law takes effect on July 1, 2022 — a delay in concession to employers who argued that businesses already are under intense financial pressure from the pandemic.

Democratic legislators argue the requirement is essential to ensuring public health and a stable workforce. They advanced the bill over unified Republican opposition in the state House and Senate.

Lujan Grisham said the coronavirus has driven home the need for paid sick leave.

“No one should ever be compelled to come to work when they are sick,” she said in a statement.

The governor also signed a bill that increases the surtax on insurance premiums from 1% to 3.75% to shore up subsidies to health insurance policies for low- and moderate-income patients provided through New Mexico’s health insurance exchange.

The changes proposed by state Democratic Sens. Martin Hickey of Albuquerque and Jeff Steinborn of Las Cruces are offset by the recent elimination of a federal fee on insurance. The governor’s office says the law will eliminate copayments and cost sharing by patients to access mental health services.

Lujan Grisham, a first-term Democrat, also signed a bill that allows air-quality regulators in the Albuquerque area to adopt more stringent rules than current federal requirements and give the state a stronger hand in limiting air pollution.

The governor has until Friday to sign or veto bills approved during a 60-day legislative session that ended March 20, including a $7.5 billion state spending plan for the coming year. The governor also can veto a bill from the closing days of the session by ignoring it.