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Mass. lawmakers getting closer to passing driver's license bill for undocumented

Feb 25, 2021 3:00 pm

Danny Jin is reporting for The Berkshire Eagle if some Massachusetts lawmakers and advocates their way, the commonwealth will soon join 16 states, including Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, and Vermont, to allow people without legal status to obtain a driver's license. State Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier of Pittsfield is one of the four lead sponsors of the Work and Family Mobility Act, which she says now has the support needed to pass during the new legislative session. The proposal amassed 60 co-sponsors, as well as a public expression of support from Senate President Karen Spilka, but never made it to the floor for a vote. Supporters, including some in law enforcement, argue that opening licensing and training opportunities to undocumented residents would make roads safer, while also improving equity of access to health and economic opportunity. An estimated 200,000 people live in Massachusetts without legal papers, and the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center said in March 2020 that 41,000 to 78,000 drivers could get licensed in the first three years if the bill is passed. Republican Gov. Charlie Baker opposes the bill, meaning that lawmakers might need the support of a two-thirds majority to override a veto. Baker’s concern is that it would be difficult to verify the identity of people if they are undocumented. However, many undocumented people have some forms of identification, such as a student ID or a passport. At an event this week, Farley-Bouvier said the bill has more supporters in office now than during the previous session, and filed the legislation in the Massachusetts House along with other representatives. She said the bill’s supporters will be “working closely” with new House Speaker Ron Mariano to pass what they see as “common-sense legislation.” Read more in The Berkshire Eagle.