Everyone involved in the House debate, and those watching it, know that the battle is over whether New Mexico should repeal a law that allows the state to give driver licenses to illegal immigrants.
But for the last two hours, state lawmakers have debated whether the House should send HB78 to the Judiciary Committee from the House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee.
And whenever lawmakers have veered toward the subject underlying the debate — illegal immigration — they’ve been reminded to keep to the point.
Here’s an exchange illustrating that.
Rep. Sandra Jeff, D-Crownpoint, asked Nunez if his bill would affect illegal immigrants.
Nunez responded that yes, immigrants from Russia, Brazilians, east Indians “who are getting paid money to get driver’s licenses.”
House Speaker Ben Lujan, D-Nambe, banged the gavel and reminded the members that they must stick to the motion at hand, and that’s to move HB78 to the Judiciary Committee.
A couple of minutes later, Rep. Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe, asked Nunez what he considered as the most pressing issue facing New Mexico.
Water, Nunez answered.
Egolf then asked him why he wasn’t trying to blast a bill concerning water onto the House floor.
Lujan spoke up, reminding Egolf to stick to the point.
“The motion before the body is to remove it from committee and if we are going to allow that process. Can you stay on the subject?” the speaker reminded Egolf.
Egolf then said he’d give up the mike, but not before saying this.
“This is a political process,” Egolf said in response. “It’s a sad political attempt to divert the attention of this body and the state” and it’s a way to “play political games.”