A bill to grant driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants in Idaho has passed through committee with no recommendation and is awaiting a debate on the Senate floor.
The Senate Transportation Committee held a public hearing on Senate Bill 1081, sponsored by Senator Jim Guthrie (R-District 28). The bill would allow anyone 16 years of age or older in Idaho to apply for a driver’s license if they can provide proof of identity with a passport, birth certificate, consular identification, or ID issued by another country. The person would have to prove they live in Idaho and also successfully pass both the written and driving skills tests.
In the Statement of Purpose, Guthrie said,
“This bill will improve Idaho’s road safety, ensure more drivers on Idaho roads are covered by insurance, enhance driver education and training for all Idahoans, improve safety of law enforcement officers, reduce the severity and extent of motor vehicle collisions, and generate additional state revenue for Idaho Transportation Department programs. The Restricted Driver’s License would be limited to driving purposes only, it would have a distinguishable appearance, and conspicuous words of limitation to ensure the card is not used for voting, to purchase firearms, or to exercise any other rights or privileges reserved to citizens.”
Many individuals testified on the bill.
Alex LaBeau, President of the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry, told the committee,
“What we are fundamentally talking about are human beings. These human beings work in the state of Idaho. They provide hundreds of millions of dollars in productivity to the state. They provide taxes, yes they pay taxes, they pay social security, they pay medicaid. All of those things happen in the state of Idaho. All we are talking about is trying to improve the safety on our roads and give employers the opportunity to reduce their overall costs by insuring these employees to allow them to use our vehicles. This is good for Idaho.”
Director of the Idaho Sheriff’s Association Jeff Lavey who represents all 44 Sheriffs in the state of Idaho spoke strongly in opposition to the legislation, and fielded several questions from the committee. He told the Senators the Sheriffs had voted unanimously to oppose the bill, and they asked that the bill be held in the committee and not allowed to advance. Lavey said,
“There is already a process in place where anyone in our country legally on a work visa can obtain a valid Idaho driver’s license through the sheriff ‘s office.”Advertisement
Also speaking in opposition to the bill was Fred Birnbaum of the Idaho Freedom Foundation.
After 90 minutes of testimony and discussion, Senator Rick Just (D-District 15) made a motion to send the bill to the floor with a do-pass recommendation. The motion was seconded by Senator Ali Rabe. Vice Chair of the Committee, Senator Lori Den Hartog then made a substitute motion to send the bill to the floor without a committee recommendation. She commented on her motion saying,
“This is a difficult and important issue…. I know it’s a unique motion… We don’t normally send out something without a recommendation and sometimes that feels like an abdication of our responsibility as committee members. In this I think we might need the wisdom of the whole body…”
There was then an amended substitute motion made by Senator Chris Trakel (R-District 11) to instead hold the bill in committee. The amended substitute motion was seconded by Senator Phil Hart (R-District 2).
The vote on the amended substitute motion was a tie, which is deemed a failed motion. The vote on the substitute motion by Den Hartog (sending the bill to the floor with no committee recommendation) found a majority in favor and passed.
Senate Bill 1081 was filed for its third reading on March 2 and has been retained on the Senate calendar awaiting its floor debate. It remains to be seen what the Senate will do with the legislation.
Photo courtesy of Idaho Legislature website.
Tags: Ali Rabe, Chris Trakel, Driver's Licenses, Illegal Aliens, Illegal Immigration, Immigration, Jim Guthrie, Lori Den Hartog, Phil Hart, Rick Just, Senate Bill 1081, Senate Transportation Committee, Undocumented Workers