Mass. GOP seeks to repeal law allowing residents without legal status to obtain driver’s licenses


Policy

Republicans would need to collect enough signatures to ask a question about the November ballot.

Protesters at a rally outside the Statehouse, held in support of allowing immigrants to the country to illegally obtain driver’s licenses in Massachusetts. Steven Senne/AP Photo

Last week, Massachusetts lawmakers voted to override a veto by Governor Charlie Baker, officially creating a law that allows residents without legal immigration status to obtain driver’s licenses. Now, Republicans in the state are taking steps to overturn that law.

A member of the state committee, with the support of state party chairman and leading GOP gubernatorial candidate Geoff Diehl, filed documents Monday to start that process, The Boston Globe reported. For the measure to be repealed, a question would have to be put on the ballot in November.

But first, 10 registered voters must submit a petition. This could happen on July 9, 30 days after the law was enacted. After that, organizers are expected to collect 40,120 signatures by September 7, the World reported. A question would then be placed on the ballot.

But that endeavor could be a long one, according to Rob Gray, a policy consultant and analyst who helped lead the 2020 auto “right to repair” initiative.

“It seems unlikely that they can muster the resources,” Gray told the World. “It’s a big hurdle in a short time…it’s a heavy organizational challenge.”

Specifically, the cost of paid signature collectors could be a stumbling block, he added.

The effort to overturn that law was spearheaded by Diehl, who released a statement with his running mate Leah Allen shortly after the waiver vote.

“This bill is a bad bill,” Diehl said. “Leah and I will not sit idly by and watch the consequences of this bill take away the security and democratic rights of Massachusetts residents.”

Diehl then contacted Milford resident Maureen Maloney, chair of a new committee called Fair And Secure Massachusetts, on World reported. Maloney’s son was killed by a drunk driver without legal status.

Maloney has been outspoken about such legislation in the past and told the World that she plans to avoid a paid signature collection business, opting instead for “grassroots” collectors.

“It’s a problem that people care about a lot. It has to be something that resonates with them. I think we will get the required signatures easily,” she told the World.

The House voted 119 to 36 in favor of overriding Baker’s veto last week, and the Senate followed suit with a 32 to 8 vote.

The bill was first passed by both bodies in the spring, with Baker expressing concerns that it does not adequately protect against ineligible people who register to vote illegally. He also said it would place an additional burden on local governments, according to WBUR.

Baker vetoed the bill on May 27, saying the Motor Vehicle Registry lacked the expertise to systematically check the many types of documents issued by other countries that would be used as proof of identity under the bill.

Proponents of a bill like this had been pushing for years to gain support and momentum. Eventually, the wording of the bill was tightened in an effort to garner more support from law enforcement, according to the World. This resulted in more conservative support. Most sheriffs and district attorneys in the state supported the final bill.

The law would come into effect in July 2023. Residents without legal immigration status could obtain a driver’s license by providing two documents proving their identity. This may include a foreign passport, birth certificate, or marriage certificate.



Boston

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