No challenge for new state law

JOHNSTOWN — Fulton County at this time is not pursuing joining federal court action challenging New York state’s new law that lets undocumented immigrants obtain driver’s licenses.

Montgomery County Clerk Brittany Kolbe recently indicated she will request the Montgomery County Legislature to join a federal lawsuit.

The legal action was first broached by Rensselaer County questioning the legality of the Driver’s License Access and Privacy Act, also known as the “Green Light Bill.” The new law passed the state Legislature and was signed by into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. It allows the state Departments of Motor Vehicles offices —such as at the County Office Building in Johnstown — to issue standard driver’s licenses to anyone, regardless of their immigration status.

Erie County Clerk Michael Kearns also recently filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking an injunction blocking the law until its constitutionality is reviewed. Defendants in the lawsuit include Cuomo, Attorney General Letitia James and DMV Commissioner Mark J.F. Schroeder.

Fulton County Clerk Linda Kollar was asked Tuesday if she will be asking her county’s Board of Supervisors to pursue the legal challenge, such as is being considered in Montgomery County.

“I probably will have to at some point,” Kollar said.

But she referred any other questions to county Administrative Officer Jon Stead.

He said Thursday he was unaware of any legal challenges by counties, nor has Fulton County been asked to join any specific complaint.

“I’m not particularly aware of any specific lawsuit,” Stead said. “We’ve had no discussion on that just yet.”

But even though Fulton County hasn’t pursued any legal challenges, he said the county plans to stay on top of the undocumented immigrant driver’s license issue, including any class action suit that may arise.

“We’ve all expressed concerns at this point,” Stead said.

Stead noted the Fulton County Board of Supervisors is on record, voting in June to forward a letter of opposition.

In that action, Gloversville 4th Ward Supervisor Charles Potter made a motion to have board Chairman Jack Wilson send a letter of support by the Board of Supervisors for state Sen. James Tedisco’s efforts opposing giving driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants.

The Potter motion seconded by Gloversville 1st Ward Supervisor Marie Born supported Tedisco’s County Clerks Protection Act. The act would indemnify county clerks, who run most of the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles, from facing lawsuits or removal by the governor when they refuse to issue driver’s licenses to those here illegally.

By Patricia Older

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