Upcoming New Mexico legislative session will likely feature controversial items
LAS CRUCES, N.M. — The 51st New Mexico Legislature will be busy with a full plate of bills this upcoming session and will likely feature controversial legislation to repeal a law allowing illegal immigrants to get driver's licenses and the future of Spaceport America.
During the 60-day session the budget is a top priority, but with the longer session this year New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez will make another attempt at repealing a 2003 law that does not require checking a person's immigration status when receiving a state driver's license.
"The legislature has to start doing what New Mexicans want them to do and repeal the law that gives driver's licenses to illegal immigrants," Martinez said while in Las Cruces in December.
Martinez has argued issuing licenses to illegal immigrants can lead to fraud, human trafficking and other security concerns.
She add with a state issued I.D. any person can travel freely throughout the country gaining access to airports and government buildings increasing a potential security risk.
"If we had a law that showed that only American citizens or people that are in the United States legally whether it be a work visa, a student visa, a resident alien all of them can get driver's licenses cause they're here legally," Martinez said.
Opponents of repealing the law said it would hurt law enforcement and other agencies when trying to identify a person.
The governor along with Attorney General Gary King will also look at clarifying and expanding the state's sex offender registry law.
Under the current law a person convicted of a sex crime in another state will not have to register as a sex offender if the statute in New Mexico is not equivalent to that of where the crime was committed.
"But it is a sex offense in the other state, they should be required to register as a sex offender in this state," Martinez said.
The legislature will also look at tackling an informed consent law allowing suppliers at Spaceport America to be exempt from any legal liability in case space flight passengers are injured in future flights.
The only company currently exempt from liability is Virgin Galactic.
The company has hinted at pulling out from the quarter billion dollar Spaceport if a new law does not pass.
"We're going to have things like informed consent which allows the Spaceport to work better," said District 36 State Senator Lee Cotter, who expects to hear legislation on liability laws this session.
Cotter said the law is needed to help draw in new companies providing jobs at the Spaceport.
He added having quality jobs in the state will help keep graduates in New Mexico boosting the economy.
The session opens up January 15th and will be without long time Speaker of the House Ben Lujan who passed away last month.
All three items are still looking for sponsors.