By Kim Shanahan, Executive Officer, Santa Fe Area Home Builders Association
The recent conclusion of the 30 day legislative session was more whimper than bang. Some watchers of the sausage factory that is New Mexico government say that is a good thing. Our conservative friends say government doing little is government doing its job. If true, they should be happy. Our liberal friends are frustrated that wheels of progress are not turning, but must take comfort with “no harm, no foul.”
Home builders, who pay some of the highest worker compensation insurance rates (passed on to consumers), sought a simple reform of rules so that when workers who injure themselves or others while inebriated on a jobsite are not eligible for automatic benefits. The compromise was that medical bills are paid for injuries, but sitting-at-home benefits are not.
Such a notion seems logical and uncontroversial but it hit the House Labor Committee and was tabled (killed) on a 4-3 vote along party lines. It was portrayed as anti-worker and anti-family, which is ironic since the same inebriated worker could leave the same jobsite and smash his truck into another vehicle, doing harm to himself or others, and wind up in jail on the taxpayer’s dime. Yet drunk-driving jail time is not portrayed as anti-worker or anti-family. Oh well, we’ll be back next time to persuade our Democratic friends this is NOT a partisan issue.
Our Democratic friends did sponsor an excellent bill for home builders that got great traction but ultimately ran out of gas. Santa Fe Representative Carl Trujillo carried a bill to provide modest state tax credits to homeowners who did energy and water efficiency home improvements. Home builders have pointed out for years that if we are serious about reducing energy and water consumption we must address existing homes. Look for Trujillo’s bill next year with full support of our industry and, hopefully, a bipartisan legislature.