Lawmakers still hoping to come up with license bill

Posted at: 02/27/2013 5:43 PM
Updated at: 02/27/2013 5:44 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Hopes for a compromise that could solve New Mexico's driver’s license problem are still alive in the state legislature tonight - even though Democratic lawmakers tabled the compromise bill last night.

When a committee tables a bill, that's usually the kiss of death. But this time Democratic leaders insist the bill is alive and kicking - and the Republican Governor agrees.

Democrats argue that the compromise doesn't allow enough illegal immigrants to get special driving permits that are not regular licenses for id purposes. They want more people covered under any state law that moves New Mexico into compliance with the federal "Real I.D." Act. That's the hangup now, but Speaker of the House Ken Martinez says it's not a deal-killer.

"Oh we're closer to a compromise on it than we've ever been," said Martinez. "I'm very excited about that. We had a great hearing Tuesday."

House Labor Committee chairman Miguel Garcia led that hearing.

"We can possibly mold something together by the end of the session and hopefully have the Governor sign off on it," Garcia said.

Gov. Martinez would rather repeal the state law and stop those licenses altogether, but she is still talking compromise.

"We have really worked together in order to get that compromise to allow permits for that group of individuals, so I don't think it's dead at all," Martinez said. "We're going to continue to work together so that we can get a bill that can get signed."

The Governor points out that there is a Senate bill that's identical to the House bill that got tabled Tuesday night, and it's set for a committee hearing Friday. She said that's plenty of time to work out an agreement before the legislative session ends March 16.