Massachusetts - Bad Bills Die; Petition to Ban Driver’s Licenses for Illegal Aliens Progresses
FAIR Take | August 2022
The Massachusetts legislature ended its formal session on August 1, leaving numerous open-borders bills to die. While they did not pass this session, these bills are likely to be reintroduced next year. Meanwhile, despite facing numerous obstacles, the petition to block driver’s licenses for illegal aliens continues to gain steam and signatures as the August 24 deadline approaches.
End of Formal Session
Massachusetts has a full-time legislature which continues throughout the year. However, it has a “formal session” where votes can be taken on bills and an “informal session” where only measures with unanimous support can move. The current two-year legislature was scheduled to end its formal session on July 31 but actually stretched past midnight into the early hours of August 1.
Open-borders bills that died at the end of the formal session include those that:
- Effectively ban any state or local law enforcement cooperation with federal immigration authorities (HB 2418, SB 1573, SB 1579). While Massachusetts is already a sanctuary state because of a judicial decision, the bills would be comparable to those enacted in Illinois, Oregon, Washington State or Connecticut, and would be more extreme than California;
- Guarantee the in-state tuition rate for illegal aliens at any public institution of higher education if they attend a Massachusetts high school for at least three years (HB 1352, SB 823);
- Provide COVID-19 “stimulus” checks of up to $1800 per single adult illegal alien, $3600 per married couple and $1100 per child (SB 1850); and
- Authorize voting by foreign nationals in local elections in Brookline (HB 5008), Somerville (HD 5031), Warwick (HB 3990), Northampton (HB 832) or in every locality in the Commonwealth (HB 770, HB 828, SB 465).
Similar legislation has been introduced in previous sessions and will almost certainly be reintroduced when the new legislature reconvenes on January 4, 2023.
Petition Moves Forward
The petition to get a question on the November ballot to ban driver’s licenses for illegal aliens in Massachusetts officially began gathering signatures on June 28. The committee backing the petition drive, Fair and Secure Massachusetts, is headed by Angel Mom Maureen Maloney whose son was killed by an illegal alien drunk driver. It has received strong support from Republican gubernatorial candidate Geoff Diehl as well as MassGOP chairman Jim Lyons. Both Diehl and Lyons are former state legislators.
The petitioners must gather 40,120 certified signatures by August 24 in order for the question to get on the November ballot. Fair and Secure Massachusetts said they want to submit at least 60,000 signatures in order to ensure they have a cushion for certification. Wendy Wakeman, a campaign strategist for the committee, is optimistic about their chances, saying that previously failed petition drives “were practice for this … [t]his question energizes people, and it’s going to lift the whole effort toward bringing Massachusetts some more conservative, rational thought.”
Open-borders protesters, including members of the legislature like Senator Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton), have attempted to dissuade and, in some cases, even physically block people from signing. The petitioners have repeatedly noted that state law protects their activities and they have called Attorney General Maura Healey (D) and other state and local officials to protect them. However, Healey, a candidate for governor, has avoided taking action so the petitioners have filed a lawsuit against her.
Polls are divided on the outcome of the vote if the petition succeeds in getting onto the ballot. A UMass Amherst / WCVB poll taken at the end of June found that 24 percent of respondents strongly supported the new law [giving driver’s licenses to illegal aliens] while 34 percent strongly opposed it. An additional 16 percent somewhat supported it and 12 percent somewhat opposed it. However, a Suffolk University/Boston Globe poll taken at the end of July found that approximately 58 percent of the 569 registered voters surveyed said they’d vote to keep the law if it is on the ballot in November while 34 percent said they’d vote for a repeal.