This must be the season of redundant, unnecessary legislation.
This time, it’s legislation (S5527) proposed by Bronx state Sen. Luis Sepulveda that will allow the governor to remove any county clerk from office if they refuse to issue driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants.
County clerks administer the state Departments of Motor Vehicles offices in their counties and therefore have authority over driver’s licenses. Some clerks who are opposed to issuing licenses to immigrants in the country illegally have threatened to defy the law and not issue the licenses.
We’re not in favor of the current bill to issue these licenses. And we’re certainly not supportive of public employees who disobey the laws they swore an oath to uphold.
But creating specific legislation targeting clerks over a law that doesn’t even yet exist seems more like political grandstanding and an abuse of the power of the Legislature to threaten and intimidate than it does a legitimate use of lawmakers’ legislative powers.
The governor already has specific authority, under Section 13 of the state constitution, to remove any elected sheriff, county clerk, district attorney from office, with proper notification and a hearing. So this law is unneeded.
Introducing legislation for political showmanship just to intimidate and anger county clerks who’ll have to enforce a law with which they might disagree only serves to inflame an already contentious situation.
Albany has enough problems without lawmakers going out of their way to make them worse.