An excerpt of the ongoing debate:
House Majority Leader Ken Martinez, D-Grants — In your substitute you are allowing foreign nationals to get a driver’s license.A foreign national should be able to drive in this country. Is that correct?
Rep. Andy Nunez –Yes.
Martinez: Should foreign nationals be able to drive, and I think the answer is overwhelmingly yes.
If we asked a polling question, while we’re doing this because the poll says so, I thought we were a policy body. The poll question could have been – do you believe, think, that foreign nationals should pay the same registration fee and the same insurance?
Nunez – Yes, I do.
Martinez — I think we get to the heart of the issue. The overwhelming evidence is that this works. Rep. Miguel Garcia’s language – requiring people register and pay for insurance — is working. We are that level. How do you register? And how do they register? We’re very close on this issue. And this is not a political issue. And it is not an issue for campaign fodder. Let’s make sure our roads are safe and people who drive pay their insurance.
(At this point Martinez made a motion to add House floor substitute #2 –)
Rep. Dennis Kintigh, R-Roswell – Is this portion a separate three-hour debate or does this fall under the substitute motion we’ve already debated.
House Speaker Ben Lujan, D-Nambe – If we adopt this substitute it could be a three-hour limit.
Rep. Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe – Would it help us to resolve into the committee of the whole. That way we could take public comment.
Martinez – The law that has been working, as I understand it, would allow foreign nationals to apply with the secretary of the Tax and Revenue Department (which oversees the Motor Vehicles Division) for a driver’s license with a taxpayer identification number.
Matriculas are also used in the current law as valid Ids to get a driver’s license. (A matricula is document issued from the Mexican embassy.)
Martinez: It’s a secure ID, it protects against fraud.
Nunez — It’s official. But it doesn’t give them authority to enter into the U.S.
Martinez — The substitute I want to introduce is not mine. It was a compromise worked on by the Senate after the issue came before them. This bill (referring to his own substitute) has significant support on the Senate side. One thing it does is create a fourth-degree felony in the situation that someone brings in documents that aren’t appropriate to the Tax and Revenue Department. (Martinez refers to a clerk recently who was discovered to have issued fraudulent driver’s licenses.) Do you think it would be a good idea to make that a third-degree felony?
Nunez: Isn’t that already the case?