Oregon driver-card opponents file referendum papers

Article author: 
Peter Wong
Article publisher: 
Statesman Journal
Article date: 
Thursday, May 9, 2013
Article category: 
Oregon Issues
Article Body: 

Opponents, as expected, have started their effort to force a statewide election on four-year driver’s cards for Oregonians who do not qualify for standard eight-year licenses.

Republican Reps. Sal Esquivel of Medford and Kim Thatcher of Keizer, and Richard LaMountain of Portland, filed the referendum papers with the secretary of state.

They hope to overturn Senate Bill 833, which lawmakers approved and Gov. John Kitzhaber signed on May 1. The bill would allow four-year cards for those who cannot prove legal presence in the United States and do not qualify for licenses, which also can be used for federal identification purposes such as boarding commercial aircraft and entering federal buildings.

The referendum effort was announced last week by Oregonians for Immigration Reform, which opposed the bill, hours after Kitzhaber signed it. Esquivel and Thatcher both spoke against the bill during a House debate April 30.

Referendum sponsors will have to gather 58,142 valid signatures by 90 days after the end of the 2013 Legislature. That deadline would fall on Sept. 26 if lawmakers adjourn by their target of June 28.

If their measure qualifies for a statewide election, the attorney general will write a ballot title, which is an official summary. The measure would then appear on the November 2014 ballot, although lawmakers can provide for a different date. The law would be suspended pending the outcome of the election.

If their measure does not qualify for a statewide election, the law will take effect Jan. 1.

Oregon would join Washington, New Mexico, Utah and Illinois in providing alternatives to driver licenses. The 2005 federal law does allow alternatives to licenses as long as they are clearly marked invalid for federal identification purposes.