New Mexico lawmakers to address road funding, driver’s licensing

| 9/7/2011

The New Mexico Legislature is back at work this week in a special session. They are discussing issues that include driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants and funding for road upkeep.

New Mexico is one of two states – Washington is the other – to allow illegal immigrants to obtain full-blown driver’s licenses. In Utah, illegal immigrants can obtain licenses to drive but cannot be used as identification.

The states don’t distinguish between personal and commercial drivers’ licenses.

Gov. Susana Martinez is pushing for a bill to remove her state from the short list.

Supporters of stricter licensing rules say the current system allows for identity fraud and raises other public safety concerns.

“This is a public safety issue involving fraud and identity theft that affects not just New Mexico, but states throughout the country, as people throughout the world have traveled or been trafficked to New Mexico (at a cost of $500 to $6,000 per license) for the sole purpose of obtaining a driver’s license and leaving,” a proclamation from Martinez’s office read.

She said the majority of residents in the state “want this dangerous practice brought to an end.”

Opponents say that the purpose of a license is to show proof of the ability to drive – not to be used for identification purposes.

They also say that affected drivers need a license to get to work. Cutting them off would result in many more uninsured drivers.

Also expected to be considered during the special session is an effort to boost funding for road maintenance.

Martinez wants lawmakers to approve $40 million for road upkeep throughout the state to help cover costs associated with the Rail Runner commuter train system.

According to the governor’s administration, debt service for establishing the commuter train system accounts for about 11 percent of the money in the state road fund. As a result, they say road maintenance has suffered.

To view other legislative activities of interest for New Mexico, click here.

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