Monday, March 11, 2013

Garcia-Richard: "My vote will no longer be manipulated"

Rep. Stephanie Garcia-Richard
The House Appropriations & Finance Committee probably put the final stake in the heart of the driver's license repeal on Saturday when supporters of Rep. Paul Pacheco's House Bill 606 didn't have enough votes to pass it out of the committee.

Few lawmakers on either side of the issue thought such a bill -- which would repeal the 2003 law that allows the state to issue driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants -- had much of a chance in this session.

But the bill, which was pushed by Gov. Susana Martinez,  has been troubling to one freshman lawmaker, Rep. Stephanie Garcia-Richard, D-Los Alamos.

During last year's campaign, in which she unseated Republican Jim Hall, Garcia-Richard said she would vote to repeal the law.

Last week when House Republican Whip Nate Gentry led the unsuccessful effort to blast HB 606 to the House floor, Garcia joined Republicans in voting to remove the bill from the House Labor Committee, which had tabled it. But she voted with the majority of Democrats in subsequent votes. The bill stayed in House Appropriations.

Soon after the vote, Republican operative Adam Feldman tweeted, "Stephanie Garcia Richard is on Appropriations. No `procedural vote' to hide behind there."

And the next morning, the governor herself in an interview on KRSN accused Garcia-Richard of breaking her campaign promise by not voting to move the bill out of all the committees to the House floor, the Los Alamos Daily Post reported.

On Saturday Garcia-Richard voted with Republicans to give the bill a do-pass. But after the vote, she released the following statement:

“I have been deeply concerned by Gov. Martinez’s persistent actions to politicize this issue. I believed the bill deserved another opportunity to be heard in order to allow additional time for a real compromise, which is why I initially voted to blast the bill out of committee. I spent the last three days drafting amendments that would satisfy the needs of all New Mexicans, but received no support from Republican leadership in the process. After today’s vote, it is apparent that HB 606 is just another tactic used by the Republican leadership to attack vulnerable Democratic members.  For this reason, I am taking a stand and saying enough.  My vote will no longer be manipulated  or held hostage by Gov. Martinez and until she is willing to come to the table and compromise, I will vote against any attempt by Republicans to once again blast HB 606. It is my hope that the governor and House members will be able to come together and work out a compromise that can actually pass and resolve this important issue once and for all.”
It's rare when a politician admits to being vulnerable. I'm not sure how important this issue is to voters in Garcia-Richard's district is. But you can bet the Martinez political operation won't let it rest in 2014.