Updated: Saturday, 10 Sep 2011, 8:35 AM MDT
Published : Friday, 09 Sep 2011, 6:05 PM MDT
SANTA FE (KRQE) - House Democrats have reintroduced a bill regarding driver's licenses for illegal immigrants, hoping to strike a compromise with Gov. Susana Martinez and Republicans.
"Every single item of legislation occurs through compromise," said House Majority Floor Leader Rep. Ken Martinez, D-Grants.
The bill would still issue licenses to people without Social Security numbers. But it would require renewal every two years instead of the current four or eight years.
The measure would also require additional documents to prove New Mexico residency.
"The other issue is if there is any fraudulent process in it, the penalty for that criminal behavior would be raised," Rep. Martinez said.
The bill is almost identical to the one the Senate passed during the regular session of the Legislature earlier this year. Senate Democrats amended the license repeal bill, sponsored by Rep. Andy Nuñez, I-Hatch.
Nuñez's bill would have denied licenses to illegal immigrants but grant them to foreign nationals who are in the country legally. A conference committee was formed for the House and Senate to reach an agreement, but the clock ran out, effectively killing the legislation.
Democrats are hoping for better luck during the special session. Lawmakers who support the compromise said it addresses all the flaws in the current license program.
"It also listens to the very human concerns that people have with regard to some of our foreign nationals having licenses in New Mexico," Rep. Martinez said.
But other lawmakers said striking a deal on this very heated issue will be difficult.
"It is clear from the citizens of New Mexico that they are on two sides," said Rep. Bill Rehm, R-Albuquerque. "The majority are on absolute revocation without compromise."
Governor Martinez said the new bill isn't a compromise but "a partisan gimmick" that doesn't make New Mexico any safer from fraud and criminal activity.
"The governor put together a true compromise bill in the 60-day session that ended the issuance of driver's licenses to illegal immigrants, while still allowing legal foreign nationals to receive them," said Gov. spokesman Scott Darnell. "It received support from Republicans, Democrats, and the House's lone Independent when it passed by a 42-28 margin."
But House Democratic leaders are still hopeful they can stop the stalemate with the governor's office.
"Before saying she won't support it, just take a look at it," said Rep. Martinez.