Martinez having frustrating legislative session

Posted at: 03/06/2013 6:25 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Close but no cigar.

Allies of Gov. Susana Martinez struck out Wednesday afternoon in an attempt to force an up-or-down/yes-or-no vote in the House of Representatives on a bill that would stop drivers licenses for most illegal immigrants.

The rare legislative move to pull the bill out of three House committee assignments for a vote on the House floor failed by one vote, with a few Democrats joining Republicans in support of the bill.  Most Democrats bitterly opposed the maneuver in a three hour floor fight.

"Once again we're attempting to divert this body's attention to an issue that is not in the forefront of the most pressing needs in this state," said Rep. Brian Egolf, a Santa Fe Democrat.

But the Republican Governor has insisted for three years that it is an issue that is important to most New Mexico taxpayers, with the federal government threatening to require New Mexicans to show passports when they board passenger planes. The licenses do not meet requirements of the federal "REAL ID" Act.

"I still have hope that the driver’s license bill can still pass," Martinez said. "It depends on if the leadership - the Democratic leadership - have the courage to stand up for what New Mexicans are asking for and set aside that extreme fringe of the Democratic Party."

It's been a frustrating legislative session for the Governor. She offered to compromise with Democrats on the licenses, on education reform, and on limiting liability for accidents at the Spaceport - but much of that agenda is either stuck or dead.

"They don't want change," said Martinez. "They just talk that they want compromise. When we give it to them they change and move the target again."

The session ends at noon on March 15.