County lawmakers lock horns over supporting defiant DMV workers

Erie County

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) –New York’s “Green Light” law that would allow undocumented aliens to apply for licenses triggered debate between Democrats in the Erie County Legislature and those in the Republican-dominated Minority Caucus over supporting state DMV workers.

Erie County is suing the State of New York in federal court over the measure’s constitutionality, but there was disagreement over support for a State Senate measure that would pay the legal costs for workers at the Department of Motor Vehicles, who refuse–in good faith–to go along with the state’s Green Light law.

Hamburg Independent Lynne Dixon argued if Erie County is unsuccessful and the law goes into effect in December, DMV workers would be forced to decide whether to follow the state law, which could put them in violation of federal statutes, or defy the new state law which could lead to termination or civil liability.

“Because they are being asked to accept certain documentation as if it is legal and proper, and they do not necessarily know that, they are not properly trained for that. These are civil service employees.”

But Tonawanda Democrat Kevin Hardwick said the county resolution, and the State Senate measure it supports, are not clear about upholding workers at the County Auto Bureau, who do most of the DMV work in Erie County.

While Hardwick is also opposed to the Green Light measure, he does have a problem with the pending state measure, Senate Bill 6681, that would have taxpayers footing the legal bills for state workers who defy the Green Light measure.

If Erie County is unsuccessful in its challenge of the Green Light law, it would take effect on December 14.

Hardwick said, “Even if we lose the lawsuit, we have to ask ourselves the question, are we willing to pay tens, maybe hundreds of thousands of dollars for legal fees, and have to raise taxes to pay for them?”

The resolution was sent to committee for further discussion. If the measure eventually passes in the County Legislature, it is merely a county resolution, expressing the sentiment of Erie County lawmakers, and has no standing in law.

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