state legislation

Bill allowing four-year driver's cards passes Oregon House

Thousands of Oregonians will be allowed to drive with four-year driver’s cards, instead of regular eight-year licenses, under a bill that won final legislative approval today.

The House voted 38-20 to pass Senate Bill 833, which goes to Gov. John Kitzhaber for his signature at a May Day rally Wednesday on the Capitol steps. The bill would take effect Jan. 1, 2014.

A similar bill two years ago failed to advance in the Legislature.

This time, however, it was backed by Kitzhaber and major business groups such as Associated Oregon Industries, Oregon Business Association, Associated General Contractors, Oregon Association of Nurseries, Oregon Farm Bureau Federation, Oregon Home Builders Association, Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association, and Oregon Winegrowers Association.

“All Oregonians, regardless of the documents they have, need the ability to participate in the local economy,” said Rep. Chris Harker, D-Beaverton, co-floor manager. “This bill will give them a chance to prove they can drive, get licenses and obtain insurance.”

It also was a major priority of immigrant-rights groups, along with in-state tuition for immigrant students whose parents brought them to the United States illegally as children. Kitzhaber signed that bill on April 2.

“The bill for a driver’s card is equally important,” Kitzhaber said in a recent interview.

But Rep. Dennis Richardson, R-Central Point, said that holders of such cards may find it harder to get jobs, contrary to the intent of some of the bill’s advocates.

“For all practical purposes, this bill is dealing with those who cannot prove they are in the United States or Oregon legally,” Richardson said.

“You have to wonder that if someone is willing to disregard immigration law, what other laws are they willing to disregard?” asked Rep. Kim Thatcher, R-Keizer.

Rep. Vic Gilliam of Silverton was one of the few Republicans to speak for the bill.

“I think it’s a small step forward in facing reality,” Gilliam said. “Can’t we give some hard-working Oregonians a second chance?”


 

Keizer man arrested in DUII crash identified, has ICE hold

The man who allegedly caused a power outage for more than 1,000 Pacific Power users after he crashed into a light pole south of Aumsville Saturday night has been identified by the Marion County Sheriff’s Office.

Juan Carlos Bravo-Fernandez, 24, of Keizer, was arrested on DUII charges and criminal mischief. His bail on those charges was set at $15,000 but because he has an ICE hold, he will not be released on bail, said Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Don Thomson.

Bravo-Fernandez is scheduled to appear in Marion County Court at 3 p.m. today.

The Sheriff’s Office received a report about the crash at Shaff and West Stayton roads SE just before 11 p.m. Saturday.

Officials said the driver hit a sign giving directions to Aumsville and Stayton before crashing into the power pole.

Most customers reportedly had their power back by 8:30 a.m. Sunday, and the rest were restored a few hours later.

 

SB 833 is harmful to Oregon and the U.S. and should be voted down

by Elizabeth Van Staaveren

In 2007, when the events of 9/11 and the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission were fresh in the public mind, Governor Kulongoski issued an Executive Order calling for stricter requirements for issuance of driver licenses. He also called upon the Legislature to enact legislation giving the requirements statutory authority.

In our own state, abuses on a significant scale had already been discovered in the sale of fraudulent driver licenses to out-of-state illegal aliens. "It appears that criminal organizations ... are using Oregon's permissive standards in order to assist persons to illegally obtain" licenses, Governor Kulongoski’s order explained.

In February 2008, a new Oregon driver’s license law was passed with overwhelming bipartisan support in both chambers of the Legislature. It required driver's license applicants to prove U.S. citizenship or legal residence. The law has worked well and citizens have had the security of knowing that illegal aliens and any criminals among them could not easily use Oregon as a source for falsifying their identity.

Why abandon this security in an increasingly dangerous world? It was very irresponsible of Gov. John Kitzhaber to yield to the pleas and demands of illegal alien advocates and actually sponsor a group of them to fashion SB 833 behind closed doors without allowing any input from citizens who represent the public interest. It was not only irresponsible but dangerous, because among the illegal aliens there are many who drink and drive recklessly and have killed or maimed innumerable innocent citizens in road crashes. Furthermore, the deadly drug trade flourishes in Oregon because illegal aliens are either directly involved themselves or can be forced by drug lords to aid them. Even more formidable are the international terrorists who take advantage of weak state driver license laws to embed themselves into a community and hide their massively crippling plans.

Citizenship is meaningless if illegal immigrants are allowed to enter and remain in this country encouraged and unchallenged. SB 833 accommodates and legitimizes illegal aliens, thus tarnishing the value of U.S. citizenship and saying to the world: citizenship matters little or not at all -- anyone can come here any time, and settle.

Already wages are depressed because of the volume of illegal immigration. Our less-educated citizens have to compete for jobs against illegal aliens who will work for a pittance and dare not protest working conditions to an employer. Citizens are losing out and many remain unemployed for long periods, a devastating situation for them, while they watch illegal aliens working at every construction site, in landscaping, agriculture, hotels, restaurants, and various other places.

A recent Gallup poll showed that more than 100 million people worldwide dream of a life in the U.S., and would come here if they could. The U.S. is the no. 1 desired destination for potential migrants. Of course we cannot admit all of them. Immigration laws are essential and must be enforced; otherwise the U.S. is on a disastrous path to overpopulation and chaos. Extending driver licenses to illegal aliens will only expedite the disaster.

This particular bill, SB 833, has been loosely written to allow many crucial decisions to be made by the DMV, an agency which is under political pressure from any Governor in office at the time. As the Oregon State Sheriffs’ Association stated in their testimony on SB 833, a driver privilege card should be “very clearly different from the current Oregon Identification Card and Oregon Drivers License. While the current language does provide some direction, Sheriffs believe the statute should be more specific. … Some of these requirements should be statutory rather than strictly administrative.”

The Sheriffs Association also stated that they think “obtaining a driving privilege document should be a robust and rigorous process and … they should be renewed annually. Sheriffs believe a four-year term is too long. …”

Instead of spending time making life here more comfortable for illegal aliens, our legislators should assist the federal government in enforcing the immigration laws. There are many things that states can do to help.

SB 833, granting driver privileges to illegal aliens, is harmful both to Oregon and to this country. Citizens should contact their legislators and urge them to reject SB 833.

Your calls urgently needed

Alert date: 
2013-04-20
Alert body: 

If you have been wondering if there is anything you can do to help this sinking ship, which is called Oregon, I URGE you to call as many Legislators as you possibly can and ask them to please vote NO on Senate bill 833. 

This bill is very thinly veiled with unsubstantiated proclamations of public safety all while ignoring the simple fact that illegal aliens aren't supposed to be in our country at all...let alone driving back and forth to their jobs!

Call Committee members today and tell them you are very disappointed they have voted to advance this bill:

Sen. Lee Beyer (503) 986-1706 sen.leebeyer@state.or.us

Sen Bruce Starr (503) 986-1715 sen.brucestarr@state.or.us (thank him for voting NO)

Sen. Chris Edwards (503) 986-1707 sen.chrisedwards@state.or.us

Sen. Fred Girod (503) 986-1709 sen.fredgirod@state.or.us (thank him for voting NO)

Se. Rod Monroe (503) 986-1724 sen.rodmonroe@state.or.us

Sen. Chuck Thomsen (503) 986-1726 sen.chuckthomsen@state.or.us

Then, call your own Legislator:  http://www.leg.state.or.us/findlegsltr/home.htm and tell them you are a constituent and you do not want this bill to pass.  It's bad for Oregon.

 


 

Crime tracker speaks out about the sad reality of SB833

The Oregon Legislature is in a rush to pass Legislation granting driver licenses to illegal aliens in the name of public safety.  David Cross explains just a few of the tragic results of that rationale.  Read his moving guest opinion here.  Then call all of your Legislators before the final vote on Tuesday.  Go here:  http://www.leg.state.or.us/findlegsltr/home.htm to find out who your Legislators are, if you aren't sure.

Oregon's citizens and legal residents have, unfortunately, become the collateral damage in the Legislatures rush to heap ever more benefits on those in our country illegally.  It's shameful and will, I fear, end tragically for many more Oregonians.

Driver’s license bill likely to prevail

SALEM — At the urging of immigrant rights groups, several significant business associations and Gov. John Kitzhaber, lawmakers appear likely to approve a bipartisan bill this session that would create a new short-term driving license for illegal immigrants.

Proponents believe the concept is grounded in realism, allowing a population that already lives and works in Oregon to drive legally and with insurance, until various immigration-related issues are comprehensively addressed at the federal level.

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of Oregonians who have a visceral conviction that the policy gives an unwarranted benefit to lawbreakers, encouraging more illegal immigrants to come to the state, and without necessarily making the state’s roads any safer. Those conflicting viewpoints were expressed in full voice at a heavily attended first public hearing Thursday on Senate Bill 833. Although public testimony was limited to two minutes per person, many who had signed up to testify were unable to do so at the two-hour hearing, while those watching the proceedings spilled into at least three overflow rooms.

Mariana Alvarez Flores of Salem said she had taken the day off from her job as a farm laborer to testify to the committee in favor of the bill.

“I don’t like driving without a license, but right now I have no other option,” she said through a translator.

Conversely, Cynthia Kendoll, the president of Oregonians for Immigration Reform, said the proposal “is wrong on every level.”

“Just because you can pass a bill, doesn’t mean you should,” she said.

Under SB 833, four-year licenses — rather than the eight-year licenses possessed by most Oregon drivers — could be granted to individuals who can provide proof of identity and at least one year of Oregon residency.

The new type of licenses would be slightly more expensive than typical Class C licenses, at $74 with a $54 renewal fee after four years, although several amendments are being considered that would lower the amounts.

No commercial license would be similarly made available.

Sen. Chuck Thomsen, a Hood River Republican who is co-sponsoring the bill, noted that the licenses, or “driving cards” as they may ultimately be named, wouldn’t allow a holder to register to vote, or to purchase a gun. They also couldn’t be used as a legal form of identification for miscellaneous non-driving purposes, as typical licenses can be, he added.

“This is a very important piece of legislation that affects a lot of ... good people and their families who live here in Oregon,” he said.

Rep. Kim Thatcher, a Keizer Republican, was one of several who testified who cited examples of vehicle accidents involving illegal immigrants.

“I tell you this story not because I think all people without (citizenship) documents are driving around drunk,” she said. But “this is an illustration of what can happen when we issue licenses to people who shouldn’t have them to begin with.”

No further public hearings on the proposal are expected in the Senate. The bill has been scheduled for a work session on Monday, where it could be amended and voted to the chamber floor.

Debate on immigrant licenses gets personal

A two-hour debate Thursday on issuing state driver’s licenses without proof of legal presence got personal for both sides.

Mariana Alvarez Flores, a Salem farm worker and mother of three, told lawmakers in Spanish through a translator she doesn’t like driving without a license but she currently has no other option.

“In my case, I’m unable to take my children safely to their doctor’s appointments, to school and to the babysitter,” she told lawmakers during a public hearing.

By getting a short-term license, under Senate Bill 833, supporters argued it would create safer roads because these drivers would be required to go through training and purchase automobile insurance.

Some Salem residents and lawmakers disagreed, arguing that the bill only condones illegal behavior and would make the state a magnet for illegal immigrants while doing nothing to increase public safety.

Rep. Kim Thatcher, R-Keizer, shared the story of Craig and Judy Cox, who were hit twice by drunken drivers she said were here illegally. Judy Cox died in the second accident while traveling with her husband between St. Paul and Newburg in 2007.

“I tell you this story not because I think all people without documents are driving around drunk,” Thatcher said. “But I tell you this story because this is an illustration of what can happen when we issue licenses to people who shouldn’t have them.”

While opponents geared the debate toward immigration, proponents — including the Oregon Farm Bureau, the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association, the Oregon Commission on Hispanic Affairs and immigration groups — said the bill is merely a matter of public safety.

Applicants would still need to pass the written and driving-skills test and prove their identity, date of birth and residency in Oregon for one year, under Senate Bill 833.

The license, which cannot be used for identification, would last four years.

Sybil Hebb, the director of legislative advocacy of the Oregon Law Center, said the bill would help break down the barriers to poverty by helping low-income people get to work safely.

Victims of domestic violence and the homeless are among people who may not have proof of legal presence, she noted.

Proof of legal presence was required under a 2008 law, which lawmakers passed to comply with the requirements of the federal Real ID Act. The act does allow states to issue other licenses clearly marked as invalid for federal identification purposes.

Other states such as Washington and New Mexico currently issue licenses without proof of legal presence.

The driver’s license bill is not the only legislation that has pitted immigration-rights groups against immigration critics this session. Gov. John Kitzhaber signed into law in April a bill that would allow in-state tuition for students whose parents came to the United States illegally.

Dozens of people signed up to testify on the bill Thursday and the Chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee said after the hearing he’s not sure yet if there will be enough votes to move the legislation to the floor.

“I haven’t polled the committee so I have no knowledge of that. We have a few amendments that we need to discuss and see what’s there,” said Sen. Lee Beyer, D-Eugene.

After the hearing, hundreds of immigration advocates from Causa Oregon gathered outside the Capitol.

“Sí, se puede,” they chanted as they pumped their fists in the air.

Translation: Yes, We Can.

Reporter Peter Wong contributed to this report.

BINGO!

In a recent letter to the editor Jerry Ritter connected the dots and got a BINGO!

Read Jerry's letter and consider writing a letter of your own.  It's as easy as 1, 2, 3...BINGO!
 

Short-term driver's license bill introduced

A bill introduced Tuesday would allow some people without immigration documents to obtain a short-term Oregon driver’s license.

Senate Bill 833 has not been assigned to a committee for a hearing.

The bill would allow the state Driver and Motor Vehicle Services Division to issue licenses without proof of legal presence in the United States if applicants meet all other conditions. Such licenses would be valid for four years, half the standard eight years.

Applicants still would have to prove their identity, date of birth, and residence in Oregon for one year, as well as pass the written and driving-skills tests.

Such licenses could not be used for federal identification purposes, such as boarding commercial aircraft or entering federal buildings.

Lawmakers in 2008 required proof of legal presence in the United States as a condition of obtaining a state license or identification card. They did so to comply with requirements of the federal Real ID Act, which does allow states to issue other licenses if clearly marked as invalid for federal identification purposes.

Eleven months ago, Gov. John Kitzhaber said he would convene a group to resolve the issue of licenses for those who lacked the documents.

“People need to pass a test, obtain a license and insurance to be on the roads. We all need to get to church, the store and work,” said Jeff Stone, executive director of the Oregon Association of Nurseries and part of the group.

“We have worked hard to craft a bill that allows our law enforcement officials to know when they are looking at a valid driver’s license. Senate Bill 833 is a reasonable solution to the problem.”

The bill is expected to face opposition from Oregonians for Immigration Reform.

“Before the 2008 law, Oregon’s license had become the gold standard for potential terrorists and drug traffickers because it was good for eight years and didn’t require any proof of legal presence,” said Jim Ludwick of McMinnville, a spokesman. “Five years later, we are right back in the same place.”

Francisco Lopez, executive director of Causa Oregon immigrant-rights group, said there are about 200,000 Latino workers in Oregon.

“We are contributing members of the community and the economy,” he said.

Washington and New Mexico do not require proof of legal presence for licenses; Washington issues an enhanced license valid for federal purposes. Utah issues a driver privilege card that must be renewed annually.

The bill is sponsored by four Democrats and four Republicans in both chambers.

They are Sens. Chip Shields, D-Portland; Arnie Roblan, D-Coos Bay; Bill Hansell, R-Athena; Chuck Thomsen, R-Hood River, and Reps. Chris Harker, D-Beaverton, Jessica Vega Pederson, D-Portland, Vic Gilliam, R-Silverton, and Mark Johnson, R-Hood River.

Gov. Kitzhaber signs tuition bill allowing in-state tuition for immigrant students

Gov. John Kitzhaber signed into law today a bill allowing in-state tuition for immigrant students without documents.

“This bill will help them get their shot at the American dream,” he said to legislators, advocates and students packed into his ceremonial office at the Capitol.

He described the students, whose parents brought them illegally to the United States when they were young, as “exactly the kind of young people we want in our system of public education and universities.”

For House Bill 2787, it was the end of a decade-long journey. Similar bills cleared the Senate in 2003 and 2011, but both died in the House without reaching a vote.

Students would qualify if they graduated from high school or its equivalent in Oregon, attended Oregon schools three years prior to graduation and U.S. schools for five years, and show their intent to obtain legal status or citizenship in the United States.

Senate President Peter Courtney, D-Salem, is the chief Senate sponsor of the law and was the first to introduce such legislation in 2003. He did so at the request of Laura Lanka, then the principal of Woodburn High School.

In her original 2002 email, which Courtney read aloud, she wrote, “What a bill like this would do is allow our college-ready students, regardless of their immigration status, the opportunity to get an education.”

Lanka, who is retired and now lives in Washington state, was present at the ceremony.

State university officials said they expect the number of qualifying students to be limited, given that they still are ineligible for state and federal financial aid.

They estimate only 38 additional students in the coming two-year cycle, and 80 students in the 2015-17 cycle. The net gain in tuition was estimated at just under $350,000 in the next cycle, and $1.5 million in 2015-17, assuming that none pay out-of-state tuition at rates three or four times in-state rates.

Oregon joins 12 other states with similar laws, including California and Washington. Two others have acted by other means.

Democratic majorities in both chambers resulting from the Nov. 6 election made passage likely. Five Republicans joined all 34 Democrats for it in the House, and three Republicans joined all 16 Democrats for it in the Senate.

The minority Republicans in the House sponsored a substitute that would have limited eligibility to those participating in a delayed-deportation program created last year by President Barack Obama. Participants are eligible for work permits. But the House defeated the proposed substitute on a party-line vote.

Kitzhaber took no public stance on a similar bill in 2011. But he said during his budget presentation on Nov. 30 he would sign such a bill, and held a news conference on it Feb. 11 with business leaders.

Oregon’s major business groups joined the Oregon Student Association and immigrant-rights groups in backing the bill. Oregonians for Immigration Reform, which is critical of federal immigration policy, opposed it.

Opponents have already said a legal challenge is likely. Gabriela Morrongiello, a sophomore at Oregon State University who is from California — and who is president of the conservative Young Americans for Freedom chapter — stated there would be a challenge in her testimony to a House committee on Feb. 13.

California’s law was upheld in 2010 by that state’s highest court, and in 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal.

If Oregon’s law is challenged, the case would go directly to the state Supreme Court, which has the authority to appoint someone to sort out disputes on facts before the justices hear oral arguments.

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