Legislators hear and vote on hundreds of bills every year, and each one needs a yes or no vote.  Recently, I voted to support a provisional drivers license for undocumented residents that live and work in Minnesota and frankly have been driving without training for many years.

 

When HF1500 came to the House floor, it had many provisions I could not support.  I offered three amendments to the bill that cleaned it up enough to keep the intent squarely on safer roads and allows drivers to purchase auto insurance.

The amendments include:

1) The Minnesota provisional license expires every two years versus four years for regular Minnesota license.

2) The provisional license would have “No Voting Privilege” is clearly stamped on the front of the card; instead of on the back of the card.

3) All civil penalties and fines removed to protect an officer or business from being sued as long as they handle all other offenses or services in the same way.  This ensures all Minnesota residents (documented or not) will not be treated differently solely due to the ‘No voting privilege’ status.

My focus is, and always has been, on keeping our roads safe in our community and around the state.

Currently, when a vehicle is stopped for a moving violation and the driver cannot present a valid license or papers, they would likely be brought to the local Law Enforcement Center and finger-printed and photographed.

If nothing shows up on a Federal database, the individual is then ticketed and released. This process of the undocumented person then stays stored only in the Kandiyohi County-City of Willmar database.

If the new law passed and someone had a provisional license, this information would now be shared statewide if that same person was stopped anywhere else that has access to the Minnesota Drivers Vehicle System. This would provide a name, photo, address, DOB, etc., to any county in Minnesota.

Before 2003, non-documented residents were allowed to drive in Minnesota.  For 16 years these people living, working and raising a family have been waiting for a federal policy they can work with.  Most of these residents came here legally with an H1 Visa (Agriculture workers).

 

After a period of time, these H1 Visas expired and they chose to stay here because they didn’t have a ‘line to get into” to become a US citizen.  They didn’t want to leave their jobs, and likely leave their US-born children behind and risk not being able to return to our amazing homeland.

I absolutely support immigration laws that work. I am saddened by policymakers (over several administrations) in Washington, DC that can’t design an immigration system that works.

Minnesota shouldn’t have to take these types of votes, but I chose to vote green on the side of safety because doing nothing wasn’t a good option either. This bill was very difficult for me to make a voting decision on.

 

As a public official, I always welcome feedback, whether we agree or disagree.  Being accessible and open to listening is important to me. If you want to talk with me further on this or any other issues, I will gladly call or e-mail you personally.  rep.dave.baker@house.mn or mobile 320-894-5774.

Dave Baker is the state representative for Minnesota House District 17B, which includes most of Kandiyohi County.