Senate Defends Licensing Plan On Senate Floor Official Transcript


SENATOR SERRANO: Thank you, Senator Krueger.

It's really amazing to sit here and listen to the fear-mongering on this issue that the other side of the aisle is putting forth. The facts are that voting for Senator Padavan's bill will make our roads less safe. It will make driving a car and owning auto insurance more expensive.

But just to clear up some of the things that have been said here in this chamber which I find really amazing – this whole idea of having a driver's license will just give everyone who wishes to do harm a free ride on airplanes. The facts are that you never needed a driver's license to fly on a domestic flight. You never needed to prove immigration status to fly on a domestic flight. You can fly domestically with a foreign passport, nothing more.

And to continue to beat this drum about 9/11 and saying that -- creating this correlation between immigration and 9/11 -- there is no connection between immigration and terrorism. And it's so unfortunate that this great nation, which was built on immigration, which separates us from the rest of the world as being a place to welcome the tired, the poor, those who are looking to make a better life for themselves, to continually say you're a terrorist, you're coming here and you're going to do harm to this nation, is very unfortunate.

Another issue that was brought up in this debate is voting, that this executive order by the Governor will make it easy for unqualified or undocumented people to register to vote. Well, as it stands right now, you swear or affirm when you fill out a voter registration card that you are a citizen. There is no proof that's needed when you register to vote.

There is no immigration-status proof that's needed. So none of that changes. Now, if you want to have a conversation with the Board of Elections about changing that policy, fine, we can have that conversation. But this plan does not change that.

Another issue that I heard brought up was REAL ID, that this will undermine the REAL ID Act. Well, if you dig a little deeper, you'll see that not one driver's license in the United States of America currently is in compliance with REAL ID. REAL ID will take place, will come together in the year 2013. And right now there is not one driver's license in the United States that fills all of the criteria that is spelled out in REAL ID.

So this issue would have had to have been -- the issue of having REAL ID would have had to have been revisited at that time anyway. And the Governor's plan just makes sense because it makes our driver's license more secure. Whether you agree with this plan or not, at the end of the day getting a driver's license will be more difficult. It will not become easier, because there will be stipulations in place, additional antifraud measures that currently don't exist that will be in place, that will make it more difficult for anyone to bring forth fraudulent identification to get this driver's license.

Another thing that is very important is that this will save insured motorists in this state $120 million annually on their insurance costs. Because there are so many unlicensed drivers in this state, because they cannot purchase auto insurance because they have no license, they are driving around as a liability to all of us. And I personally want to know that I'm driving on the roads with qualified drivers. And I would like to save some money on my auto insurance, because it is too high. And everyone in this state will agree with that.

So as we continue to listen to the other side talk about 9/11 and the horrible things that were done to this state, to New York City and to this state and our nation, we're talking about people who wish to do harm to this nation.

So instead of going out and having a blanket approach towards immigration, why not spend more time and effort going after people who choose to do harm to this great nation? Instead of hurting the immigrants who are only here to seek a better life and to get away from what their oppression is in their homeland, so they can have better opportunities here for themselves and their families. And it's unfortunate, since we are a nation of immigrants, that now those who are the grandchildren of immigrants themselves do not feel the same level of empathy for the immigrants who are coming in now only wishing to have the same opportunity.

And because the federal government does not have a clear path to citizenship, because of the failures of the federal government to create a proper procedure for immigrants, that is why we have so many undocumented. I can guarantee you that most of most if not all undocumented immigrants would love to be citizens, would love to have documentation. But the system is stacked against them, it's too expensive and it takes too long. And that's what needs to be reformed. So I urge all of my colleagues here to vote against Senator Padavan's bill, because it's the wrong thing to do, it will make us less secure.

And I urge my colleagues to vote --

ACTING PRESIDENT LITTLE: Senator Larkin, why do you rise?

SENATOR LARKIN: Madam President, would Senator Serrano yield for a question?

ACTING PRESIDENT LITTLE: Thank you. Senator Serrano, do you yield?

SENATOR SERRANO: Certainly. After I finish my last statement.

ACTING PRESIDENT LITTLE: So you don't yield.

SENATOR SERRANO: One second, Senator. I urge my colleagues to vote against this bill because it really does not do the State of New York any good to keep our heads in the sand any longer about immigrants -- unless we're planning on deporting all of them, which will ruin our state's economy. Yes, Senator.

ACTING PRESIDENT LITTLE: Thank you. Senator, do you now yield?

SENATOR LARKIN: You're echoing a statement that was made by the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles before the joint committee meeting last week, where he said we will save $124 million. When he was asked "Prove it, tell us," he said, "Well, that's what somebody in the Insurance Department said." What is your answer?

SENATOR SERRANO: Well, the state of New Mexico, Senator --

SENATOR LARKIN: I didn't ask about New Mexico, Senator, I'm --

SENATOR SERRANO: But this is proof --

SENATOR CONNOR: Point of order, Madam President.

ACTING PRESIDENT LITTLE: Thank you. Senator Connor.

SENATOR CONNOR: He asked a question. Let the Senator answer the question.

ACTING PRESIDENT LITTLE: Thank you. Senator Serrano, answer the question.

SENATOR SERRANO: Madam President, through you, eight other states in this nation have implemented this plan. And all of these states have seen a reduction in their auto insurance costs. New Mexico has seen a reduction by one-third.

SENATOR LARKIN: Thank you very much, Senator. But my comment to you is that was over a week ago, and the Insurance Department has not sent us anything that they said they would. So until they do it, I think somebody should be very careful about saying how much we will save.

SENATOR CONNOR: Point of order, Madam President. Senator Larkin is out of order again. He is asking a question? Is he asking the Senator to yield? Or is he making a statement when he doesn't have the floor?


SENATOR SERRANO: Madam President, currently auto insurance rates are as high as they are partly because there are so many uninsured motorists on the roads, unlicensed motorists on the roads. And they're driving. Whether we like it or not, they are driving. And this plan brings them out of the shadows and brings them into the system. It is documenting the undocumented. It is the smart thing to do. And until the federal government cleans up their act, this plan actually creates records of who is here in this state, who is driving, and it ensures that we have qualified drivers on the road. And insurance companies, because there are more insured motorists on the road instead of uninsured, it lowers the premiums. Thank you.