Drivers License Issue Solved?
NM Senate Passes Compromise, Bipartisan REAL ID-Compliant Driver’s License Bill
Submitted by Carol A. Clark
SANTA FE – The New Mexico Senate Saturday night approved an amended House Bill 99 on a 41-1 vote. This potentially historic, bipartisan compromise brings the state’s driver’s licenses into compliance with federal REAL ID requirements.
The bill now advances to the House of Representatives for concurrence with the Senate’s amendments. The measure would make New Mexico driver’s licenses compliant with the federal REAL ID Act if the House approves it, and signed by the Governor.
“After six years of impasse, Republican Senate Leader Stuart Ingle and I worked collectively to negotiate a solution for our state,” said Democratic Senate Finance Chairman, Sen. John Arthur Smith, D-35-Doña Ana, Hidalgo, Luna and Sierra. “This bipartisan compromise makes New Mexico’s driver’s license compliant with REAL ID, which allows us to move forward to put this divisive issue behind us, and address other serious problems we face.”
The bill establishes a two-tier system with a REAL ID Driver’s License and a Driving Authorization Card that is not REAL ID compliant. Earlier, the Senate bill was amended to require fingerprints of those applying for Driver’s Authorization Cards that are not REAL ID compliant – but fingerprints are only required of undocumented immigrants who are applying for a driver’s authorization card for the first time. An additional amendment was approved that allows fingerprints to be sent to the FBI for the purposes of background checks.
Prior to today, HB 99 was amended by members of the Senate Public Affairs Committee (SPAC) to contain Senate Bill 256, a bipartisan bill originally sponsored by both Sen. John Arthur Smith and the Senate Minority Floor Leader, Sen. Stuart Ingle (R-27-Chaves, Curry, De B, Lea & Roosevelt). It was approved by SPAC 8 to 1, and then unanimously approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee with no changes. HB 99, amended, now reflects most of the Senate’s bipartisan measure, SB 256.
Many New Mexicans are concerned about their privacy and identity theft because of the amount of information required to obtain a REAL ID compliant driver’s license. Reflecting those concerns, HB 99 allows individuals residing in New Mexico, who are U.S, citizens, with lawful presence, the choice to instead apply for a driver’s authorization card, which would also be available to undocumented immigrants.