A Font Fight in Albuquerque

The legal wrangling about presenting the proposed Healthy Workplace Ordinance to Albuquerque voters in October has been going on for about a year. One of the two lawsuits deals with the mechanics of presenting the proposal on the ballot. A judge had ruled that the entire seven page ordinance must be on the ballot and that a summary would not do. At the end of my post about that decision, I urged readers to watch for arguments concerning the ballot’s font size and margins.

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Last week, HWO proponents filed an emergency motion to stop the City from printing the HWO on the ballot in 7-point font.  They claim a ballot in 7-point is “illegible and [an] illegally-small font size.” They argue that the font size should be at least 8.5-point to comply with federal voluntary ballot guidelines which, they claim, New Mexico has incorporated into its law.

Proponents also renewed arguments that the ballot should contain a summary of the HWO and that a “legible, large-text copy” of the ordinance be provided in each voting booth.

 

Albuquerque Paid Sick Leave Suit Claims “Logrolling” Foul  

Add a “logrolling” lawsuit in Albuquerque, challenging this fall’s anticipated ballot initiative on the City’s proposed Healthy Workforce Ordinance (HWO), to the PSL litigation docket.

The complaint alleges that the HWO has 14 “non-interdependent” provisions and combining them into one voter initiative is “logrolling” in violation of the state constitution.  Logrolling, also known as the “single subject” rule, is defined in the lawsuit as “the presentation of double or multiple propositions to the voters with no chance to vote on the separate questions so that unpopular, unworkable or extreme new laws will be voted on, with a potentially popular idea.”  The “single subject” argument was rejected recently in Arizona and is pending in the challenge to Initiative 1433 in Washington.

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The lawsuit was filed earlier this week by a host of business interests against the City of Albuquerque, the City Council and each of its members. The complaint asks that the court permanently enjoin the City and Council from placing the proposed HWO on the ballot. The lawsuit also challenges the City’s minimum wage law. The case is Association of Commerce and Industry, NAIOP & New Mexico Restaurant Ass’n v. City of Albuquerque et al (County of Bernalillo, Second Judicial District, Case No. D-202-CV-2017-02314).

In addition to the “logrolling” argument, the lawsuit alleges that the HWO is overbroad because it applies to employers outside of Albuquerque.  A similar argument was upheld recently in a lawsuit challenging the Minneapolis Safe and Sick Time Ordinance. That decision has been appealed. The lawsuit also argues that HWO exceeds Albuquerque’s authority under the home rule provision of the state constitution.

This fall’s anticipated voter initiative on the HWO follows last November’s failed effort to have PSL put on the county elections ballot. As reported, the county rejected the effort to include merely a summary of the PSL bill on the ballot.