An effort by a member of the New Mexico House of Representatives to bring a tabled driver’s license bill out of committee and onto the House floor failed Wednesday after a tie vote.
Rep. Nate Gentry, R-Albuquerque, requested a “call of the house” for votes as to whether HB606, sponsored by Rep. Paul Pacheco, R-Albuquerque, should be removed from its assigned committees for a vote by the House.
The bill would create a two-tiered driver’s license system with two seperate licenses, one in compliance with the REAL ID Act. Driver’s license applicants would have to have a valid Social Security number and licenses issued to foreign nationals without a Social Security number or proof of authorized presence in the United States would not be valid identification outside of New Mexico.
A call of the house mandated all 70 representatives be present in the House chamber and not allowed to leave until the call had ended.
Gentry said the issue of licenses is important to the safety of the state, as “the current driver’s license bill makes New Mexico a target for people with ill intent from all across the world.”
“We owe it to the people of New Mexico to take a vote on this legislation and work toward legitimate reform,” he said in a statement.
The bill, he said, is a compromise that would protect “those who qualify under the DREAM Act, while still protecting the people of our state.”
In February, the House Labor and Human Resources Committee tabled the bill. Committee member Rep. Candy Spence Ezzell, R-Roswell, agreed that the bill was a compromise and said the state should ensure citizens will be able to board planes and enter federal buildings without additional identification.
“Don’t you think it’s in the citizens’ best interest to bring this to an up or down vote?” she asked.
Eventually, the House voted 36-34 to remove the bill from the Labor and Human Resources and Judiciary committees. After a 35-35 vote, however, the motion to move it out of the Appropriations and Finance Committee failed, leaving it in that committee.
“This is an issue of public safety and an issue of great concern to New Mexicans,” Pacheco said in a statement. “It deserved an up or down vote on the House floor and it is a shame that the people of New Mexico did not get that vote.”
Tuesday, the Senate Public Affairs Committee tabled a bill identical to HB606, sponsored by Sen. Stuart Ingle, R-Portales. The committee will soon hear another two-tiered license bill, sponsored by Sen. Pete Campos, D-Las Vegas.