With a deadline of 12:39 pm to veto the bill, Governor Susana Martinez signed the Far Pay for Women Act into law at just after 12 noon.
The Fair Pay for Women Act, HB216, was sponsored by Representative Brian Egolf. It passed both the NM House and Senate with strong bi-partisan support.
Rep. Egolf stated: "This bill brings the opportunities for justice closer to home for New Mexico’s women. The wage gap in New Mexico is very real and continues to harm many New Mexico families. We commend the bipartisan support in both chambers for sending a strong bill to the governor’s desk.”
Full-time working women in New Mexico lose approximately $2.4 billion each year due to the wage gap according to the U.S. Census Bureau (2010) American Community Survey. An estimated 35% of the households in New Mexico that are headed by women live below the poverty level.
The Rev. Holly Beaumont with Interfaith Worker Justice-New Mexico, who brought the bill to Rep. Brian Egolf, stated: “Eliminating the wage gap means that working women in New Mexico will have $2.4 billion more to spend on food, rent, utilities, child care, transportation and health care for their families. That’s $2.4 billion dollars more poured into New Mexico’s economy.” The Senate version, SB 402, was sponsored by Senator Linda Lopez.
Despite the 1963 Equal Pay Act, women continue to be paid 77 cents for every dollar paid to all men for doing the same work. Women of Color face even greater disparity with African-American women at 62 cents, and Latinas at just 54 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men.
The Fair Pay for Women Act provides an important and efficient means for women to make wage disparity claims by requiring that she simply prove pay disparity. The bill also provides an Affirmative Defense for employers who can prove that they were acting in good faith and did not intentionally cheat their female employee of equal pay for equal work.
There is overwhelming support for closing the wage gap. A national poll of registered voters shows81 % of men and 87% of women from all political parties support improving equal pay laws for women.
“We hope that the Governor will continue to support working families in New Mexico by signing HB 449, sponsored by Rep. Miguel Garcia.” said the Rev. Beaumont. HB 449 will strengthen the 2009 Anti-wage Theft law, which Rep. Garcia also sponsored. HB 449 has also received strong bi-partisan support and only needs to pass on the Senate floor before it heads to the Governor.
The Fair Pay for Women Act is a project of Interfaith Worker Justice-NM, the Southwest Women’s’ Law Center and the New Mexico Women’s Agenda.