Friday, March 04, 2011
(Updated) Rep. Nunez Tries to Bring New SUBSTITUTE Immigrant Driver License Bill Direct to House Floor Without Analysis, Committee Hearing
Update: After another long and sickening display of bigoted rhetoric and joking about the lives of hard-working human beings on the part of right-wing cronies of Susana Martinez, the NM House voted to approve Rep. Andy Nunez's substitute for HB 78 to to eliminate driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants by a margin of 42-28.
So much of the testimony against this bill was incredibly moving, heartfelt, compassionate, passionate and honest -- but it did not sway a single Republican, and 8 Dems sided with the right wing Republicans.
A total of 8 DEMOCRATS VOTED FOR THIS TRAVESTY: Ray Begaye (D-Shiprock), Joe Cervantes (D-Las Cruces), Dona Irwin (D-Deming), Sandra Jeff (D-Crownpoint), Rhonda King (D-Stanley), Patricia Lundstrom (D-Gallup), Al Park (D-Albuquerque), Debbie Rodella (D-Espanola).
Shame on all of them -- and especially on Al Park -- for pretending to be Democrats while siding with the worst elements of our culture and our state on this legislation. I am so sickened by this, I am seriously contemplating changing my voter registration to independent even though I have been a straight-ticket Dem all my life.
The Democratic Party and leadership I have known for most of my life would never tolerate supposed Dems like this voting against their own caucus, against the Democratic Party's core values and with the most divisive and politically expedient governor our state has seen in many years. I also blame Speaker Ben Lujan for doing such an incredibly poor job at uniting the Dem caucus against this bill. It makes me ashamed to be a Democrat and a New Mexican.
Yesterday, thanks to cronies of New Mexico's Republican governor Susana Martinez, the New Mexico House spent almost all day on an unnecessary, confusing and infuriating "debate" about HB 78, sponsored by fly-away Dem Rep. Andy Nunez of Hatch (he's now "independent"). No immigrant driver license bill has made it out of committee to the House floor in a legitimate manner, but Susana et al. won't take no for an answer. They decided they don't need to follow the normal decorum of the House because ... well, because. Who needs committees and public input in the legislature when you can just go around them and bring your pet legislation directly to the floor?
The "debate" was actually on a three-part motion by Nunez that would first "blast" his bill from the House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee (HCPAC) without a vote, "blast" it again from the House Judiciary Committee (HJC) without a vote and then "blast" it to the House floor. Unfortunately, the motion passed 36-34 late yesterday, with every Republican voting for it and two Dems -- Rep. Sandra Jeff of Crownpoint and Rep. Dona Irwin of Deming -- joining them. Nunez had also attempted -- unsuccessfully -- to "blast" an immigrant driver license bill onto the House floor the night before, after a day-long debate on the budget and a committee substitute for HB 607/622, a bill to put a $45 million cap on film industry tax rebates -- another of Susana's pet projects.
The main aim of the Susana forces is clearly to make political hay out of this wedge issue designed to stir up fear and bigotry. The governor's operatives have been videotaping floor debates, votes on the legislation and "blast" attempts from the press box (see photo above), evidently to use in 2012 election ads attacking the Dems. Martinez et al. are all about politics before people, politics before doing what's right for New Mexico, politics before following the normal procedures for passing a bill.
Also yesterday, a similar bill on the Senate side -- SB 518 sponsored by Sen. John Ryan (R-Albuquerque) -- was tabled in the Senate Public Affairs Committee (SPAC). The room was packed with opponents of Ryan's bill. Any driver license bill that manages passage in the House would go to this committee, so you could say that the hours and hours spent on Nunez's "blast" are a terrible waste of time and taxpayer money when New Mexicans are battling joblessness and a struggling economy. Susana doesn't care.
Nunez Shows Up With New Bill
So anyway, today the House was prepared to take up -- for the first time in 50 years -- a bill brought directly to the House floor without first going through the committee process. But wait. Now Rep. Nunez has gone even further. Apparently acting on the orders of Gov. Martinez and her PR/eternal campaign, Nunez is attempting to bring a brand-new SUBSTITUTE bill -- that has never seen the light in ANY committee -- directly to the House floor instead. It's a 12-and-a-half-page bill to replace the 5-page bill he was blasting yesterday. The new substitute hasn't even been vetted by the Legislative Council Service with a Financial Impact Report (FIR). I'm not kidding.
This legislative session should go down in history as "Susana's Circus." Gov. Martinez and her legislative allies, like Rep. Nunez, Rep. Dennis Roch (R-Texico) and Rep. Don Bratton (R-Hobbs), have been making a mockery of House decorum and procedure, acting like snarky bullies bent on getting their way no matter what. Susana doesn't seem to know the difference between campaigning and governing. Or maybe she really doesn't care about governing given what appear to be her growing ambitions to make a splash on the national scene using a Rovian dependence on wedge issues and hype.
The last I paid attention today, Rep. Ken Martinez (D-Grants) was introducing a substitute to Rep. Nunez's substitute. I'll get back to you later on how that goes. Tick tock.
Responses to Yesterday's Fiasco
“Today we dealt with important issues. Not only did we deal with the policy merits of the Governor’s legislation, but our members also had serious reservations about circumventing the House committee process,” Speaker Ben Lujan said in a statement released to the press. “We have committees and rules for a reason. Maybe those with strong political agendas can’t appreciate those reasons, but our committees are designed to give the public the opportunity to speak for or against a bill with their representatives,” Lujan added. “My interest throughout this entire process has been to do the right thing, and not to score political points,” concluded Lujan.
Several Democratic members also expressed concerns that the bill will now come to the House floor without having been vetted by the House Judiciary Committee to which the measure had been assigned.
“Even the bill’s sponsor (Rep. Nuñez) recognized during the bill’s first committee hearing that there are serious constitutional questions at play here,” said Rep. Al Park (D-Albuquerque).
“Now that the bill comes directly to the House floor, we have denied the public their right to speak with us on these issues,” said Speaker Lujan.
Rep. Miguel P. Garcia (D-Albuquerque) also expressed concern over what he called the “willingness of the Governor to insert herself as a lobbyist into the legislative process.”
"This is a political maneuver, done for political purposes, organized for purely political reasons and it's going to do nothing to solve the problems before the state of New Mexico and get New Mexicans back to work and to help our economy get moving again," said Rep. Brian Egolf (D-Santa Fe).
At top of post, photo by Keegan used under Creative Commons license.
I think these Democrats who voted for this should be drummed out of the Party and the state. They should move to Arizona where they belong.
Posted by: Terrible | Mar 4, 2011 8:41:46 PM
Al Park???????? What a phony and coward.
Posted by: Sean | Mar 4, 2011 8:58:09 PM
The dem caucus showed it's strength fortwo days, trying to kill the bill before it actually got onto third reading. The speaker and leadership kept the cauus in line, all but Jeff and Irwin who have not caucused with the democrats all session. Literally, they have not been attending caucus.
That Jeff and irwin broke on the procedural issues doesn't reflect t poorly on the leadership, it reflects poorly on all democrats who allow these people to represent our party on the House.
Hell, jeff is yanking lujan over the coals for trying to influence her vote. The speaker just doesn't have the numbers, and Jeff has sold out to Susana. What would you do barb? Especially given the constraint that you need to whip the caucus on other important votes such as the budget/film tax?
We have a governor that's attacking our dem leadership daily. They're not perfect, but the speaker went to hell and back trying to kill the bill. He stood with advocates, and is a close friend of Somos u pueblo UNIDO a group that u belong to. It's a shame that you would aid Susana in attacking our speaker,
Posted by: You just don't get it barb | Mar 4, 2011 9:03:26 PM
Shame on you, Al Park. Don't even think of running for Martin's seat. We will bury you if you do.
Posted by: Proud Democrat | Mar 4, 2011 11:19:21 PM
Why is granting a license to illegal immigrants a platform of the Democratic party? I know business owners and yuppies like it because it keeps working class wages on the down low. Seems like that would be more of a Republican cause. I know plenty of people (anglo children of hippies,definitely not racist) who typically vote Dem, but are tired of New Mexico being a magnet for the undocumented because of being able to get a driver's license. Hard to understand the passionate defense of uncontrolled immigration.
Posted by: NM Indy | Mar 4, 2011 11:43:17 PM
A big disappointment today. Let me jump on the outrage bandwagon and offer some observations for what it's worth.
First, NM Indy, we need national immigration reform. That's not a defense of "uncontrolled immigration." But Arizona style hate-posturing against prudent public safety measures like insuring we have licensed drivers on our roads is not the alternative. Rather it's the height of stupidity, i.e. Republican. We obviously need the 80,000 or so immigrants who are in NM. The "free market" says so. The overwhelming majority of these folks are law-abiding, don't want trouble and, in the immortal words of George Bush, are just trying to "put food on their families." So have a heart and support safety on our streets and highways. We don't need two stupid parties of scapegoating and racism. One is too many.
Now speaking of the Dems: Several witnesses observed Sandra Jeff trotting up to the 4th floor immediately after yesterday's floor session to get her marching orders from the Martinez political operation. Assume she is on the take. But hey, she doesn't even live in her district -- she lives in Albuquerque! Where's the less-stupid Party on that one?
I'm just sayin'.
And yes, Speaker Lujan has lost a lot of his juice. He's been weakened by scandal and a close primary re-election. But let's be clear. The overriding fact is that the Dem majority is the absolute minimum -- 36 Dems to 34 anti-Dems. As a result, most of the committees are even-steven in party composition.
The expectation that Lujan, or any Speaker, could somehow enforce 100% ironclad discipline is simply not realistic. I mean what yardstick would one use? Speaker Pelosi was as tough as they come, but she had lots of defections during her tenure -- even on votes where the polls were a lot more favorable than this driver's license deal. And Pelosi had the White House backing her up. In NM, the Rs have the executive. And the capital outlay stick is gone too.
Forget about Irwin. She takes her orders from her mentor from Deming -- John Arthur Smith.
But Al Park is a real piece of work. He comes from an ABQ district -- one with serious poverty pockets. By all rights, he should be an impeccable liberal like the Dem lawmakers from the surrounding districts. Yet, he is the poster boy for corporate Democrats. He's the template. Go figure.
It's high time time folks started paying attention. For example:
Heard of HJM36? It's a simple Joint Memorial with a whole lot of punch. It expresses opposition to the Citizens United Supreme Court decision and calls on Congress to pass a Constitutional Amendment to strip corporations of their newly granted "rights" as "persons" to expend unlimited amounts of campaigns. I mean, this is pure DFNM! The measure is part of a national movement being pushed in legislatures all across the US. It will be a long-term campaign, starting with education, but it's a first step. Read all about the campaign here:
So where is HJM36 this session, you ask? It was tabled a couple of weeks ago in House Judiciary, chaired by Al Park. And the Republicans on that committee overcame the one-vote Democrat majority to win that tabling motion by getting one Dem to defect. And who was that Dem? Al. Park.
But I ask, how could any Democrat other than the most reactionary Blue Dog -- vote against something like this?! Against Citizens United and corporate personhood? Even if you discount it as a symbolic gesture, that's all the more reason why it should be EASY for a Dem to vote for. And get it to the floor so the Republicans have to vote for the record.
Wake up. Al Park does shit like this all the time when he thinks no one is watching. Al has been planning to run for the Jason Marks PRC seat next cycle -- a perfect landing zone for a corporate Dem. He has amassed over $280K in his campaign account. You read that right $280K. He's been using his chairmanship and a faux run for AG several years back to shake down the lobbyists ever since. He's got more cash on hand than any other legislator -- even the Speaker.
Al Park's only loyalty is to his corporate paymasters -- and his future political ambitions. Doing the right thing by immigrants doesn't even compute for Al. They can't vote. They don't give him cash. Above all, the issue doesn't poll well.
So yes, blame the Speaker all you want. His juice is gone. But in his defense, a two-seat majority ain't jack.
Oh, and speaking of that razor thin majority -- you do know that Al Park supported his good friend, Nate Gentry, in last year's election. Nate, of course, is now the new Republican representative in District 30 after beating a tremendous progressive Democrat, Karen Giannini.
I wish I was making this up, but I'm not.
Posted by: luis | Mar 5, 2011 12:59:51 AM
When a country loses control of its borders it has lost control of its country. So sayeth this young proud Democrat whose parents waited a long time before they were able to become American citizens legally. This needs to be considered by anyone who is critical of House Democrats supporting the bill. NM Indy has said it better than anybody else has: "Hard to understand the passionate defense of uncontrolled immigration." I agree.
Posted by: Young Dem | Mar 5, 2011 1:05:36 AM
@Young Dem: The framing is pure BS. We are not defending uncontrolled immigration. That's pure Rethuglican horse sh*t. We are defending the ability of every driver in the state to get a license which they pay for, and which gives them absolutely no ability to vote or anything else. Then they pay insurance, and everybody's car insurance rates go down. Take away immigrant drivers licenses, and your car insurance bill will skyrocket.
Posted by: Proud Democrat | Mar 5, 2011 2:29:11 AM
Undocumented workers don't stop driving because they don't have access to driver's licenses and auto insurance. They drive without insurance.
Auto insurers base their rates on actuarial tables. When the number of uninsured drivers rise, so do auto insurance rates. Exponentially!
This was the reason for issuing driver's licenses in the first place, and it is the reason that auto insurance rates are lower in New Mexico than in Texas and Arizona.
But hey! Obviously racism and xenophobia trump critical thinking, common sense, logic and good old-fashioned household economics every time.
Just don't wail when you pay that nice insurance surcharge.
Posted by: Ejército Libertador del Sur | Mar 5, 2011 4:55:56 AM
Congratulations Al Park and the other Democrats who voted for this hate bill. You made it that much easier for the rightwing to win elections in 2012. You handed our Arizona style governor a big PR victory and something she can use for months to come.
Why was Nunez's bill even allowed to be introduced onto the floor after not having any committee hearing? You know that rightwing crap we always hear-did you read the bill? Nobody in the public read this bill before it was voted on. Nobody in the LCS read it. Nobody gave a financial accounting of its impact.
It's one thing and bad enough to allow the blasting of a bill out of a committee but to let one that's never seen the light of day in committee onto the floor is a slap in the face to everyone and the leaders let it happen like sheep.
The Democrats acted like they were shocked at this tactic and most sat there with their tails between their legs during the hours of disjointed discussion that passed as debate. You didn't see this coming? You didn't have a plan to stop it? You didn't get on TV and tell the truth about the reasons for this bill? You didn't get on TV to criticize how this bill was rudely pushed through by bullies?
You deserved to lose the fight because you have no fight. You only have excuses-the same excuses you used during 8 years under Richardson when D majorities were big in both houses. These are the same excuses the President and Congress use too. You accomplish nothing for the people.
Posted by: Same Shit Different Day | Mar 5, 2011 9:15:18 AM
Just say no to Al Park for A.G. in 2012!
Posted by: Ejército Libertador del Sur | Mar 5, 2011 1:08:17 PM
U.S.A. State Sponsored Terror (rock music video) Released
Anti U.S. Police State Musician/activist releases his 5th rock video.
Television interview at:
Posted by: scott huminski | Mar 5, 2011 6:50:14 PM
After reading the comments above, I really wonder how many of the commenters have actually read the bill. Give it a try. Way too much knee-jerk reactionary spewing here.
Democrats (including me) always sneer at Republicans for voting lock-step on abortion and domestic partnerships. We pride ourselves on being the party that celebrates diversity. Some of the posters above are now denying this diversity, and screaming that any legislator who does not vote exactly as they would should be "drummed out of the party and the state." Get a grip, guys.
BTW, here's the web page where you can download AND READ a copy of the House floor substitute that was passed:
Posted by: Ellen Wedum | Mar 6, 2011 12:27:20 AM
Too bad the bill wasn't available to the people before the vote, right Ellen? Reading it after the fact doesn't help us much.
Democrats have freedom within the party but there are some lines that should never be crossed. One of them is supporting racist, bigoted laws meant to harass people and stir up hate. This governor and her party are dedicated to this if you haven't noticed and now these 8 Democrats are on the record supporting it.
Get a grip? You need to get a grip about what this sickening governor and her Karl Rove and Texas pals are up to. You sound like a naive school girl.
Posted by: Wake Up Ellen | Mar 6, 2011 8:59:58 AM
Divide and Conquer. Perhaps it has been a good thing if it is new in New Mexico politics.
But this whole issue looks to me to be the sort of scam that I would expect in the Texas legislature.
The purpose of setting off arguments like this is to deflect energy from the real deal.
What the Democratic Party really ought to be doing is calling attention to this. Republicans have been consistent in framing the issue on terms that divide people. That is what they are good at.
If you pull out to a larger perspective, the issue is national and international. Why are we not yelling loudly and long about the basic reason that people are forced to go north and come into the US?
This is about Wall Street and the way that international banking is forcing people out of home communities in favor of investors who want to grab lots of land for multi national agribusiness.
When everyone focuses on one little piece instead of on what is really going on, there is no way out of embittered arguments over things like drivers' licenses intended to address public safety.
There will be an unending series of these divide and conquer issues. That is the way to soften the electorate up to produce a win in the senate race.
Posted by: Stuart Heady | Mar 6, 2011 12:26:32 PM
I don't find anything wrong with this bill. True, in 2003 it sounded like a good idea to have all drivers registered and insured, but it has not worked out. And I suspect that, due to the lack of oversight, anyone who wants to cheat can also stop paying the insurance premiums after they get the license (and it can be a license for up to 8 years, remember).
I don't believe it should be the mission of the Democratic Party to encourage people to enter the US illegally.
Posted by: Ellen Wedum | Mar 6, 2011 1:52:21 PM
Ellen go back over to Heath's blog where all the other right wingers go. What didn't work out about the licenses? Nothing except Susana's cheap lies.
People are caught every day in every state trying to get past the rules for licenses. They get caught like they did here.
If this bill created to stir up division passes the Senate all it will do is make people run away from accidents, drive without insurance, refuse to report crimes, have women afraid to report domestic violence and all kinds of other bad things. The worst thing is that it gives haters the dog whistle that it is ok to be a bigot. Good job Republicans.
This doesn't "encourage" people without papers to come here. They are already here and trying to feed their families just like everyone else. What a cruel and foolish viewpoint you defend Ellen. Maybe you need to change parties.
Posted by: Susana=Hate, Inc. | Mar 6, 2011 6:14:37 PM
I am very happy that this passed. This is not a Democrat Republican issue. It is an issue of national security. NM is Americas southern border and it is our responsibility to guard it. Seven other states also repealed this law. There is too much potential for crime to allow it to continue. We are a land of laws before we are a land of opportunity and those coming here without permission don't care about the laws just the opportunities and the crime associated with it is getting worse. NM is a poor state and in no condition to offer help to anyone.
Posted by: AnthonyM | Mar 7, 2011 10:42:16 AM
The federal government is solely in charge of national security, immigration and border enforcement, not state governments. Did you know that crime has GONE DOWN significantly in the border states over the past 5 years? Go look it up.
Show me some statistics that back your argument about rising crime in New Mexico due to immigration. You Republicans make it up and repeat it and think that makes it true. It isn't.
The law to grant the licenses was adopted because law enforcement wanted it to make the roads safer and allow them to get evidence on accidents DWI etc. If this bill passes, our roads and communities will be more dangerous, not safer.
Your arguments completely fall apart under scrutiny, "AnthonyM".
Posted by: Atty. | Mar 7, 2011 11:24:11 AM
First, the word is Democratic in that sentence and your incorrect usage makes me suspect that you have been subjected to quite a bit of right-wing hate media.
Second, the idea that laws come before opportunity sets up a false dichotomy that only serves to further an intolerable authoritarian philosophy. The framing is as anti-freedom and repressive as it gets.
Please read the post by Stuart Heady again. It suggests the cause and the ONLY long term solution to the problem of illegal immigration into this nation. Please think carefully of the other nations' border control policies. The nations that share and control a border where there is as large a disparity of wealth as the United States and Mexico institute cruel authoritarian crackdown upon the citizens on both sides of the border. They are heavily armed, the citizens are oppressed and in a continuous state of insecurity and war. Israel and Palestine is a good example of this kind of conflict steeped in continuous fear and racism.
A great deal of a nation's resources are sucked into this kind of border conflict and as it also creates even greater wretched poverty, crime and radicalization on the "poor" side of the border. Arms dealing and slavery and killings is the result. Infrastructure is neglected and tribalism and gang warfare is the result.
Yes, the border can be controlled but the suffering caused by the excessive enforcement required would greatly compromise the morality and constitutional foundations of this nation. We would become a police state. By far, the cure is worse than the malady of illegal immigration with such an evil remedy never ending.
As it stands, our immigration laws are unjust and unenforcible. Our politicians lack the courage and vision to come up with long term and short term solutions. The issue is being used for scapegoating propaganda by the radical right such that the discussion has become emotional and irrational. It makes me sick the see our Democratic "leaders" being led around by the nose by this radical far right wing fascist propaganda tactic. I emphasize that I am not just name calling here. This tactic is historical fact and the emotionalism and misery it can create has well established empirically repeatable data.
We, as Democrats, must engage our intellect and put aside emotional reaction-ism. In particular, awareness of fear, hate and tolerance for inhumanity should indicate that we are headed down the wrong path.
Posted by: qofdisks | Mar 8, 2011 10:10:06 AM