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Kendall: Martinez vs. Garcia Richard – Gotcha Politics or SOP?

on March 14, 2013 - 8:56am
Column by GREG KENDALL
Los Alamos

Did State House Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard break her promise to voters? She vowed to help repeal the Richardson era driver’s license law that allows undocumented immigrants to obtain New Mexico driver’s licenses.  

Gov. Susana Martinez and anonymous robo-callers would like you to believe that Garcia Richard broke her promise.

Martinez went live on Los Alamos radio station KRSN AM 1490 March 7 to make that claim directly to local voters. But it is not that simple.

House Bill 606, sponsored by Rep. Paul Pacheco (R-Bernalillo & Sandoval-23), was designed to provide temporary licenses to immigrants who came to the United States as children but would not allow licenses to be issued to those who illegally entered the United States.

Everyone should realize that we can’t just repeal the current law without a decent new law to take its place, one that will determine how undocumented immigrant driver’s licenses are to be handled.

The Governor and the anonymous robo-calling organization (that may or may not be associated with the Governor – it's nearly impossible to know) appear to believe that we can just repeal the old law without crafting a good law to replace it. HB 606 didn’t solve the undocumented worker driver’s license problem.

Are Martinez and the Robonauts saying that we should just pull the rug out from under undocumented workers' feet, leaving them high and dry with no legal way to get to and from work?

That is how it looks to me.  

Unless politicians are willing to round up undocumented workers and start sending them back across the border, these workers are going to be in New Mexico and THEY ARE GOING TO DRIVE. 

No amount of sticking our heads in the sand is going to change this fact. I don’t see the issue of undocumented workers getting solved any time soon by the crew that is in office today.

Wouldn’t it be a lot better and safer for all New Mexican citizens if these non-citizen workers learned our state’s driving laws, took the MVD driving tests and paid the fees to get a driver’s license?

Of course it would.

Having closely watched this episode play out, it is clear to me that Garcia Richard is trying to keep her campaign promise. 

She helped Martinez and the GOP “blast” HB 606 out of the House Labor and Human Resources Committee where it was basically dead. Garcia Richard helped move the bill into the Appropriations and Finance Committee where she is a member.

Republicans were pushing to move the bill directly to a house floor vote, bypassing further committee review. Garcia Richard said that the bill needed more adjustments, would not meet the requirements of the federal “Real ID” act and would likely not pass the full House as written. 

The sponsor of the bill, Rep. Pacheco told Garcia Richard that he would be happy to work with her on making necessary changes to his bill. Sounds good, right? Sounds like solid compromise to me.

Garcia Richard drafted amendments that met the “Real ID” requirements and would allow the bill’s passage by the entire House.

Saturday March 9, Garcia Richard voted with Republicans to pass HB 606 out of the Appropriations and Finance Committee. That vote failed. You can’t blame her for trying! Well, some people can.

In my view, HB 606 is being used by Martinez and the anonymous Robonauts to forge a weapon against Garcia Richard for use in the next House District 43 election.

Going after a representative who is trying to make a positive difference doesn’t seem to be the best way to get a good bill passed.

Democrats in the House aren’t blameless either. They want to deprive Martinez of any sort of winning legislation that will advance her agenda and help her win re-election.

It is politics as usual at the Roundhouse, but is this really the way it should be? 

Let’s all be New Mexicans first and party members second. We have a huge number of critical problems facing the state that can only be overcome by working together. 

If we continue to work at cross purposes all of the time at the state and national levels, we are surely doomed.

I salute Rep. Stephanie Richard Garcia for trying her darnedest as a freshman legislator, to get something productive done in the House. Let’s hope that she doesn’t get discouraged by the “gotcha” politics and the anonymous robo-attacks. 

Let’s also hope that Garcia Richard does not become a jaded party hack like so many other legislators have become, carefully planning each move based on how much political damage can be inflicted or avoided.

Oh and by the way, what kind of organization puts out anonymous attack robo-calls? Answer: an organization that has so little faith in its position that it is unwilling to stand behind its own words!

Below is a recording of one of two types of robo-calls being received by Los Alamos voters:

Click HERE to see the previous HB 606 story, "Governor Calls Out Rep. Garcia Richard."


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