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Driver's license bill sails through Capitol - Capital Press Feb 14 2008
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February 14, 2008

Driver's license bill sails through Capitol

By Mitch Lies, © Capital Press

SALEM - Oregon lawmakers this week pushed through a bill toughening identification requirements for driver's license applicants.

The bill, Senate Bill 1080, sailed through the Senate 23-7 on Feb. 11, and on Feb. 13 passed the House with similar ease, on a 45-15 vote.

The bill codifies Gov. Ted Kulongoski's executive order requiring driver's license applicants to provide a valid Social Security number and a U.S. passport, birth certificate or visa.

SB1080 also limits the duration a license is effective to the duration a recipient is legally present in the United States - a provision adopted to close a loophole in current law that allows an individual in the U.S. on a six-month visa to obtain a driver's license valid for eight years.

SB1080 also establishes an ombudsman for individuals who are legally present in Oregon but unable to provide appropriate documentation.

Republicans and Democrats heralded the bill's passage:

"The lax standard of driver's licensing in Oregon has made our state a target for criminal organizations and more vulnerable to identity fraud," Sen. Laurie Monnes Anderson, D-Gresham, said Feb. 11. "We took a stand for high standards for state documentation today."

"This is a big step toward making Oregon families safe and secure," said Sen. Ted Ferrioli, R-John Day. "It has been a high priority on our agenda and a long time in coming."

Sen. Vickie Walker, D-Eugene, one of the seven in the upper chamber to oppose the bill, said she feared passage of the bill would increase the number of unlicensed and uninsured drivers on Oregon's highways - a fear held by the Oregon Association of Nurseries.

Passage of the bill won't stop undocumented immigrants from driving, OAN lobbyist Jeff Stone said. "Like we've seen in other states, people just won't get driver's licenses and insurance.

"We want people to learn how to drive and be insured - for safety reasons," Stone said.

The bill now heads to the desk of Kulongoski, where it is expected to be signed.

Staff writer Mitch Lies is based in Salem. E-mail: mlies@capitalpress.com.

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