Special Session Reveals Need for Reforms, Open Process

October 26, 2007

A recent Siena Research Institute poll showed nearly 72% of New Yorkers are against the governorís proposal to issue state driverís licenses to illegal aliens. With the voice of the people overwhelmingly rejecting Spitzerís plan, it is incumbent on the Legislature to push the issue to the forefront of debate and prevent his illegal, security-compromising policy from going into effect.

Thatís why this week, during a special session of the Legislature, the Minority Conference brought the issue to the Assembly Floor for debate through a series of measures to amend legislation the Assembly voted on. Our proposals mirrored measures the Senate passed, which would have addressed the concerns of the public by mandating strict minimum requirements for obtaining licenses and identification cards by requiring proof that an applicantís presence is authorized under federal law in order to protect against identity theft and thwart terrorism.

Although these measures were ruled not relevant to the legislation we proposed to amend, some Assembly Majority members did cross partisan lines to vote in favor of our legislation. This proves there is bi-partisan support for stopping the governorís plan; however, the fact we had to propose amendments to legislation is systemic of a problem with the way business is conducted in the Assembly Chamber. Simply stated, democracy and the demands of the people take second place to the autocratic leadership of the Assembly Majority.

The events that transpired are a clear indication that the process in the Assembly fails to serve the desires of the people of New York. I am disappointed with what happened, however, it is an example of why we need to change the rules and procedures of the Assembly Chamber. Reform of house rules needs to be implemented to provide a more responsive system that would ensure the people are served more effectively.

The day after the special session, we learned even more troubling news about the governorís unlawful proposal to give illegal aliens driverís licenses. Not only will his plan put safety into jeopardy, but his administration is considering the use of expensive, faulty verification equipment to scan other forms of identification, such as foreign passports.

While running tests on the equipment, the Department of Motor Vehiclesí (DMV) fraud unit found that the scanners routinely confirmed false ID documents as valid. The equipment regularly failed to recognize counterfeit, U.S.-issued resident alien cards and fake state driverís licenses. Even documents that clearly looked like forgeries still passed the tests.

It is alarming that the equipment the DMV intends to use has such fatal flaws, especially since DMV has only five weeks to fix the problem before Spitzerís plan goes into effect. This is another reason why the governor needs to rescind his orders to change the DMV licensing policy and include the public and Legislature in such important decision-making. If he does not, then the Assembly Minority Conference will move forward with our plan to sue Governor Spitzer to prevent the implementation of his plan to issue driverís licenses to illegal aliens.