Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R, I, C – Batavia) returned to Albany today and called upon the Assembly to address, in tomorrow’s special session, legislation that would ultimately block the Governor’s new driver’s license plan and to protect county clerks, as well as legislation that would reduce property taxes for seniors.
“It is our job to represent the people and the people of this state are overwhelmingly against the fiasco put forth by the Governor. I am calling on my legislative colleagues to bring important legislation addressing this to the floor so that we may do our jobs in protecting the security and interest of the people of our great state,” said Hawley. “We should be working to protect the citizens of New York from crime and reducing their taxes – not playing politics because our Governor is unwilling to listen to the people.”
In fact, more than 200 bipartisan and independent elected officials, security experts and members of law enforcement believe Governor Spitzer's proposal would make us less safe, less secure. Additionally, in the opinion of 72 percent of New Yorkers surveyed in a Siena Research Institute poll, it is just plain wrong.
Specifically, Hawley and the Assembly Minority Conference plan on introducing a number of amendments to the bills that will come to the floor tomorrow. Their amendments would mandate strict minimum requirements for obtaining licenses and identification cards, specifically in regards to presenting proof that an applicant’s presence is authorized in compliance with federal law (Assembly Bill 6474), and in regards to providing a Social Security number or proof of ineligibility (Assembly Bill 6502) and a valid photo (Assembly Bill 9457). These measures would also remove the Department of Motor Vehicles’ Commissioner’s discretion in approving license applications that do not meet this criteria, as well as strengthen measures to inform applicants about the consequences of providing false information – which includes the charge of perjury.
These requirements would help alleviate the inevitable problems under the Governor’s plan, which include voter fraud and identity theft.
Hawley also supports an amendment to protect our state’s county clerks, who may be forced to implement the Governor’s plan, despite an overwhelming majority of clerks voting against the proposal. The Assembly Minority Conference’s “County Clerk Protection Act” would protect those county clerks who choose to follow their oath of office and federal law (requiring a valid Social Security number to obtain a driver’s license), thereby not enacting the Governor’s new plan in their counties. The act would also protect any county clerks who do enact the Governor’s plan, which, pending litigation, may violate our state’s own laws.
“Elected public officials who have dutifully served the public and this state should not be placed in this position and should be protected by the state from frivolous claims or heavy-handed attempts to compel them to comply with a policy that they reasonably believe to be illegal,” commented Hawley. “Furthermore, New Yorkers – who already pay the highest taxes in the nation – should not be held financially responsible if the Governor chooses to sue county clerks over their refusal to implement his unlawful policy. “
Hawley is also supporting an amendment to strengthen property tax rebates for seniors. Under the new Middle Class STAR program, which was proposed and adopted by the Governor, Enhanced STAR recipients are receiving checks in the amount of 25 percent of their Enhanced STAR savings. This is 5 percent less than what they received last year, and up to 30 percent less than Basic STAR recipients (to whom the new Middle Class program is targeted). Hawley proposes doubling the rebate check for seniors receiving Enhanced STAR this year.
“The people of our state deserve equal protection – whether it is from heavy-handed and unlawful policy changes or from their skyrocketing property tax burden. I am calling on the Assembly Majority to address these issues at tomorrow’s session,” concluded Hawley.