October 30, 2015

Up to Legislature to fix REAL ID situation, delegation says

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The Democrats in the New Mexico congressional delegation say it is up the state Legislature to solve the REAL ID problem.

U_S_ Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich with U_S_ Reps_ Ben Ray Luján and Michelle Lujan GrishamThe REAL ID Act requires proof of citizenship or lawful status in the United States for an identification to be used for federal uses, such as entering federal facilities or eventually to get on an airplane.

New Mexico did not receive a waiver from the federal government for REAL ID compliance.

The remarks came in a joint statement from Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich and Representatives Ben Ray Luján and Michelle Lujan Grisham. All are Democrats.

In the statement, the four said they received an in depth briefing from the Department of Homeland Security about the decision to not grant the waiver.

“Many New Mexicans have questions about how and when they might be affected,” the joint statement read. “We were informed that access to federal buildings will not change before January 10, and the earliest airline travel might be affected is next spring.”

Los Alamos National Labs, Sandia National Labs and Kirtland Air Force Base will also be impacted.

However, they say a solution won’t come from Congress or the federal government.

“Our offices remain in close contact with DHS and it is clear from our conversations that the state legislature and the governor must take action to ensure New Mexicans can continue to access federal facilities and airports in the months to come,” the four said. “We support a pragmatic, bipartisan solution like the legislation passed by the New Mexico Senate that is both Real ID compliant and ensures all New Mexico drivers can continue to drive legally and safely.”

NM Political Report reached out to a spokesman for Rep. Steve Pearce, the lone Republican in the delegation, for a response and will add it if and when it is received.

Since entering office, Gov. Susana Martinez has sought to repeal the law that allows those who are in the country illegally to obtain driver’s licenses. The law passed in 2003 and was signed into law by then-Gov. Bill Richardson. Supporters say it makes the roads safer by having more licensed and insured drivers on the road.

State Legislature responses

New-Mexico-drivers-License-PolicySince the denial, Democrats in the state Legislature have been saying that they attempted to pass a compromise bill that would comply with the REAL ID provisions but that it was blocked by Republicans.

“We had the chance to become REAL ID compliant during the 2015 Legislative Session. House Democrats introduced the REAL ID and Safety First proposal, and soon after, Senators John Arthur Smith and Stuart Ingle sponsored and passed a mirror proposal with overwhelming bipartisan support in the Senate,” Rep. Javier Martinez, D-Albuquerque, said in a statement earlier this week.” House Republicans voted our proposal down, and blocked the Senate bill from moving forward and refused to bring it to a vote.”

Sen. John Arthur Smith, D-Deming, also commented on the legislation that the Senate passed but was never heard by the House. The legislation that he worked on with Senate Minority Leader Stuart Ingle was similar, though not a mirror, of the amendment put forward by House Democrats.

“This bill had a two tier license system similar to the one that was successfully instituted in Utah,” Smith said. “Senator Ingle and I worked collectively because we wanted to put this issue behind us and focus on moving our state forward. We urge the Governor to put this issue on the Call for next session and help pass this bipartisan fix.”

Taxation and Revenue Department Secretary Demesia Padilla is still urging a full repeal, at least in an interview earlier this week with KOAT.

“The ramifications can be so detrimental to New Mexicans,” Padilla said. “It’s an extremely sad day, and I think that we should all be making phone calls to our legislators letting them know what an impact this will have on our lives.”