‘Driver’s Licenses for All’ bill passes Minnesota State House

The legislation would allow undocumented residents to earn driver’s licenses
MN House of Representatives
MN House of Representatives(Northern News Now)
Published: Jan. 30, 2023 at 9:21 PM CST
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SAINT PAUL, MN. (Northern News Now) - Monday night, the Minnesota House of Representatives approved the “Driver’s Licenses for All” bill. The legislation would allow undocumented residents of Minnesota to earn driver’s licenses.

The bill would eliminate the need to show lawful presence in the country to get a driver’s license or state identification card. Proponents say this would allow the estimated 81,000 undocumented immigrants in Minnesota to complete daily tasks like driving to work, dropping kids off at school, or attending medical appointments.

Until 2003, residents of Minnesota did not have to provide proof of legal residence to get a driver’s license. Today, eighteen states have similar laws to what “Driver’s Licenses for All” proposes.

“Driver’s Licenses for All” passed in the House on a 69-60 vote.

Rep. Liz Olson (DFL - Duluth) voted in favor of the bill.

“No matter their immigration status, Minnesotans across the state need to travel to get to work, bring kids to school, get groceries, visit the doctor, and more, and everyone deserves to be safe on our roads,” Rep. Olson said. “I was proud to stand with the broad coalition of business, law enforcement, faith, labor, and community leaders who have been working for many years on Drivers Licenses for All legislation, a sensible proposal aimed at keeping people on our roads safe while ensuring our undocumented neighbors can be fully able to participate in our society.”

Rep. Dave Lislegard (DFL - Aurora) also voted in favor.

“When the Minnesota State Chamber of Commerce, Minnesota Police and Peace Offers Association, St. Louis County Sheriff Gordon Ramsay, our agriculture industry, labor unions, people of faith, and many others who recognize the benefits to having all drivers be properly licensed and insured, it makes voting yes very easy,” said Rep. Lislegard.

Opponents have concerns the bill would open the state to fraud, especially voter fraud. Several unsuccessfully proposed amendments that would require marking licenses as “not for voting.”

“I just want to make sure voting integrity is intact,” said Rep. Patricia Mueller (R-Austin), who indicated she would support the bill if such a provision were included.

“The bill makes no changes to voting procedures,” Rep. Aisha Gomez (DFL - Minneapolis) said. “A driving license isn’t a voting license; it’s for driving.”

Rep. Kristin Robbins (R-Maple Grove) believes the bill would put an unmanageable burden on an already overwhelmed driver’s license system.

“I believe this is rushed and the system cannot handle this,” she said.

The bill now goes to Senate.