By DAVID OLEN CROSS
Senate Bill 833, signed into law on May 1 by Governor John Kitzhaber will undermine Senate Bill 1080, legislation passed in 2008 that requires legal presence in the state to obtain an Oregon driver’s license.
Since 2008 the Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has been required by Oregon law to provide an annual report on the number persons driving without licenses or insurance.
In a report filed in January by DMV Administrator Tom McClellan, he imparts: “Four years after implementing a legal presence requirement in Oregon, changes in driver licensing requirements have not had a major impact on the rate of unlicensed and uninsured driving.”
Oregonians should realize by now there was no justification for the legislature and governor to make SB 833 state law this year allowing those without documentation to obtain access to a pseudo-driver’s license — called a driver card.
Looking back to 2012, when opponents to the issuance of driver’s licenses to the undocumented found out about proposed legislation that would change the legal presence requirement to obtain an driver’s license, they asked to participate in what was then called the “Governor’s Driver License Task Force” — they were shut out.
Exclusion of public input continued even after SB 833 was introduced during the regular 2013 legislative session.
To avoid scrutiny or critiques of the legislation, pro-SB 833 legislators dominated with their own testimony most of the time they made available for public oral testimony on the legislation.
It gets worse yet; to avoid further public scrutiny of SB 833, the senators and representatives controlling the legislative process moved the legislation from the senate directly to the House floor for a debate and vote —side-stepping the normal procedure of hearings in both chambers.
To open up the democratic process to citizens shunned by the pro-SB 833 cabal in the governor’s office and state legislature, State Reps. Kim Thatcher and Sal Esquivel, along with Richard F. LaMountain, Vice President of Oregonians For Immigration Reform, stepped forward and placed their names on Oregon referendum 301. The referendum campaign being successful would stop SB 833 from becoming state law on January 1, 2014, and instead place the legislative decision before registered Oregon voters in November 2014.
With guidance from OFIR and Protect Oregon Driver Licenses Committee, Oregonians’ across the state worked together and gathered 70,973 referendum signatures that were turned into the state elections office by the Oct. 4 deadline.
On Friday, Oct. 18, after the first statistical check by state election officials of 1,000 referendum petition signees, election official’s validated the signatures of 58,291 registered Oregon voters, more than the minimum number of signatures the referendum campaign needed to put SB 833 before the state’s voters.
The 70,973 registered Oregon voters who signed the referendum 301 petition did their homework. These Oregonians understand there simply are no data to backup proponents’ claims that making SB 833 a state law will make Oregon’s roads any safer.
(David Olen of Salem writes on immigration issues and foreign national crime. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)