Drivers license compromise? Gov says no

SANTA FE (KRQE) — It's been tried for three different sessions without success.

Gov. Susana Martinez wants lawmakers to repeal a state law that allows illegal immigrants to get driver's licenses.

Last year's attempt cleared the House but died in the Senate mainly because of concerns from Senate Democrats.

This year that obstacle remains. Sen. Jacob Candelaria, D-Albuquerque, tells News 13 his big issue has to do with public safety.

"I think it's the fact that we'd have many people driving on our roads who don't have insurance, who don't have a valid identification," Candelaria said.

So with a possible repeal's biggest hurdle still out there, would the governor be open to compromise?  An idea floating around is a bill yet to be introduced that would give illegal immigrants driver's permits going forward but not full licenses.

Since the permits wouldn't be valid for boarding an airplane, it would help New Mexico become compliant with a federal law that asks states to tighten up who gets a license that can work for federal identification purposes while still allowing illegal immigrants to drive legally.

But the governor says, right now, she's sticking to her guns and not compromising.

"That doesn't mean I won't get various versions of this law from various different legislators that will pass both houses," Martinez said. "I can get various versions and choose from those versions, but to repeal the law is my No. 1 priority."

Senate Minority Leader Stuart Ingle, R-Portales, says his members will push for a full repeal too and he believes the governor's idea could get enough votes if it made it to a floor vote. However, he acknowledges that other options might have to be considered.

"Let's see if we can go with the idea the governor has," Ingle said. "If we can't go with that, let's look and see if we can fix it somewhere else."
Democratic leaders say compromise is the only way forward.

"I  think we're all better off if we can put something together that we can agree on and move onto other issues that concern our state," Senate Majority Whip Tim Keller, D-Albuquerque, said.

So far no compromise bill has been introduced.

In the House there are two driver's license proposals, both from Republicans.

Rep. Bill Rehm, R-Albuquerque, has a repeal that's in line with the governor's proposal except that it goes a step further and would require the Motor Vehicle Division to cancel driver's licenses previously issued to illegal immigrants starting no later than Jan. 1, 2014. Rep. Paul Pacheco, R-Albuquerque, offered a bill that falls in line with what the governor would like lawmakers to pass.

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New Mexico (change)

New Mexico is located in the southwestern region of the U.S. Inhabited by Native American populations for many centuries, New Mexico has also been part of Imperial Spain, part of Mexico, and a U.S. territory.
Offices & Officials

Governor: Susana Martinez
Lieutenant Governor: John Sanchez
Attorney General: Gary King
Secretary of State: Dianna J. Durán

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