Friday, September 9, 2011

Driver's License Bill Introduced by Speaker Lujan

Some Democrats have complained that the Legislature agenda already is too packed with redistrciting to fool around with issues that Gov. Susana Martinez wants passed, such as repealing the law that allows illegal immigrants to get driver's licenses.

But now House Speaker Ben Lujan has introduced his own driver's license bill.

According to a news release from the House Democrats, the bill would require foreign nationals to provide more information and documentation, would reduce the period for which the license is valid and would increase criminal penalties for those who don't comply.

Says Lujan, "I have introduced this bill for the consideration of the legislature to improve the law already on the books. This is a bill much like the bill introduced during the last regular session that addresses the important public safety issues and other concerns raised by our diverse population. It is our intent to give the legislature a chance to discuss this bill in open committee meetings and on the floor.”

Lujan's bill, House Bill 22, looks somewhat like the substitute bill passed by  the Senate -- and rejected by the House -- in the regular session.

The bill would stop the issuing 8-year and 4-year licenses to foreign nationals who don't have a Social Security number. Instead licenses for these folks would be issued for 2 years.

In order to obtain a driver's license applicants would have to provide additional identification and proof of residency. These applicants without  a Social Security number would have to provide:

1) an individual taxpayer identification or similar number;
2) additional proof of identity such as a passport or matricula consular identification;
3) fingerprints
4) two independent documents proving six months of residency in New Mexico; and
5) a signed and notarized declaration stating the accuracy and authenticity of all the documents provided.

Under this bill. it would be a fourth degree felony to "knowingly or willingly" provide false or fraudulent information or documents to the Taxation and Revenue Department to obtain a license. It also would be a fourth degree felony to conspire with an applicant or to bribe Taxation and Revenue Department employees in order to obtain a driver's license.

Lujan's bill would make it a second degree felony for Taxation and Revenue Department employees to issue a driver's license knowingly to a person who is not lawfully entitled to one.

The Martinez administration didn't like the Senate bill at the regular session. I'm thinking they won't care that much for this one.

Rep. Andy Nunez, I-Hatch, has introduced the license bill favored by the administration, House Bill 18.