Opponents will seek to force election on driver cards
Hours after Gov. John Kitzhaber signed it today, opponents said they would seek to force a statewide election on a bill allowing four-year driver’s cards to those who cannot prove legal presence to obtain an Oregon driver’s license.
Sponsors would have to gather 58,142 valid signatures and file them by Sept. 26, which is 90 days after the targeted adjournment of the 2013 Legislature on June 28. If the referendum qualified for the ballot, voters would decide the issue in November 2014, although lawmakers could provide for a different election date.
“It’s a huge undertaking, but we do not feel Oregonians have been represented in this building,” said Cynthia Kendoll of Salem, president of Oregonians for Immigration Reform, the chief group in opposition to Senate Bill 833. “Our goal is to make certain that people have the opportunity to vote on this.”
The referendum effort does not become official until the secretary of state certifies the process.
SB 833, which Kitzhaber signed at a May Day rally on the Capitol steps, would take effect on Jan. 1 if opponents do not get the required signatures. If they do, the bill would be suspended until the statewide vote.
Other than proof of legal presence in the United States, which lawmakers in 2008 made a requirement of obtaining a driver’s license, applicants for driver’s cards still would have to show proof of identity and date of birth, and pass written and driving-skills tests. Cards would be good for four years, half the eight years for a regular license.
Kendoll said lawmakers took barely one month to consider the bill. It was introduced on April 2, the same day that Kitzhaber signed into law in-state tuition rates for some immigrant students whose parents brought them into the United State illegally as children. That bill can be challenged legally in a suit filed with the Oregon Supreme Court, but House Bill 2787 is not subject to a referendum because an emergency clause is attached.
The House gave final legislative approval to it Tuesday on a 38-20 vote.
Kendoll’s group has launched previous efforts at ballot initiatives, which have a higher requirement for signatures, but none qualified for a statewide election.
Four other states have allowed alternatives to licenses meeting requirements of the federal Real ID Act: Illinois, New Mexico, Utah and Washington. Those alternatives are authorized by federal law, but cannot be used for federal identification purposes, such as entering federal buildings or boarding commercial aircraft.