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- 01-17-2012, 08:32 PM #1
Nuñez backs Gov's driver's license bill
by Milan Simonich, Texas-New Mexico Newspapers
Posted: 01/17/2012 05:27:40 PM MST
SANTA FE - State Rep. Andy Nunez said Tuesday he will bring his driver's license bill directly to the full House of Representatives, bypassing the typical committee process.
Nunez, an independent from Hatch, wants to repeal a 2003 law that enables illegal immigrants to obtain New Mexico driver's licenses. He said he would file the bill by week's end.
He pushed the license repeal through the House of Representatives last winter on a 42-28 vote. It later died after being amended in the Senate. Republican Gov. Susana is supporting Nunez's bill as one of the centerpieces of her legislative agenda.
"It's identical to what I introduced last year," Nunez said in an interview. "I told her I didn't want changes. This way nobody can say they need a lot of time to review a new bill."
The legislative session beginning at noon today lasts 30 days.
New Mexico is one of three states that issues driver's licenses regardless of immigration status. But applicants must prove their identity and that they live in New Mexico.
The Catholic Church, immigrant groups and most Senate Democrats favor the existing law. They say it enables working people to drive to their jobs, support families and pay taxes.
Immigrants, they say, do the hard jobs that Americans will not touch.
State senators said they would be willing to compromise, as they did last session, by requiring noncitizens to be fingerprinted when applying for a driver's license. This would tighten security, they said.
Sen. Mary Jane Garcia, D-Dona Ana, also said she would be amenable to limiting licenses to one or two years for those without proof of immigration status. New Mexico licenses are good for four or eight years in most instances.
Nunez said he sees no chance to advance his bill through the typical committee process. He said he would instead ask the full House to approve it, then send it to the Senate.
His bill started last year in the House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee. It is the smallest committee, only five members, and Democrats blocked the bill on a 3-2 party-line vote.
Nunez persisted by asking the full House to hear his bill. After a 14-hour debate across two days, it finally received a vote.
Nunez, 76, also said he will seek re-election this year to a seventh term. He was a Democrat until last year, when he bolted the party after a dispute with House Speaker Ben Lujan.
Santa Fe Bureau Chief Milan Simonich can be reached at email@example.com or 505-820-6898 . His blog is at nmcapitolreport.com.
Nuñez backs Gov's driver's license bill - The Deming HeadlightIf a man sneaks into your home he is a burglar, not an undocumented tenant you must provide for!