Defying Voters – Oregon Legislature Works To Grant Illegal Aliens Driver’s Licenses
By Shari Rendall | June 27, 2019
The Oregon legislature seems to think it knows better than Oregon voters. It is working hard to pass House Bill (HB) 2015—which would give driver’s licenses to illegal aliens—before it wraps up its legislative work on June 30. This, despite Oregon voters defeating a very similar driver’s license measure (Measure 88) in 2014 by 66 to 34 percent.
Thumbing his nose at Oregon voters, State Representative Diego Hernandez (D-Portland) and five other Democratic lawmakers introduced the driver’s license bill in February with an “emergency clause” that prevents voters from having a chance to stop it by referendum again and would require a much more difficult initiative process.
Introduced as “The Equal Access to Roads Act,” HB 2015 was referred to the Transportation Committee. It amends state law to allow applicants applying for driver’s licenses to submit a statement saying that they have “not been assigned a Social Security number” instead of producing documentation that proves citizenship or legal residency.
Shortly after its introduction, a Zogby poll conducted March 18-19, 2019 found that 63 percent of Oregon voters surveyed still oppose giving driver’s licenses to illegal aliens. The poll further showed 68 percent of those surveyed more strongly opposed the Legislature’s efforts to give illegal aliens driver’s licenses by overriding the will of the people who defeated Measure 88.
After a hearing and work session in the Transportation Committee, HB 2015 was referred to the Ways and Means Committee. In the past, when bills do not pass directly to the floor from the committee, it indicates a problem with the bill. However, the Ways and Means Committee passed HB 2015 on June 14.
On the floor, Representative Bill Post (R-Keizer) tried to offer an amendment that would refer HB 2015 to the voters. His amendment was not even considered and the House passed HB 2015 on June 18.
Upon passing the House, HB 2015 was referred back to the Ways and Means Committee amidst some speculation that there could be some issues that needed to be resolved. However, on June 20, before the Senate could take any action on HB 2015, 11 Republican Senators walked out of the capitol to protest a “Cap and Trade” bill. Their actions prevented a vote on the “Cap and Trade” bill as well as all other legislation, including HB 2015, since the Senate cannot conduct business without a 20 senator quorum.
Democrat Governor Kate Brown has ordered Oregon State Police to bring the senators back to Salem. However, it does not appear that they will return soon. Many of the senators are believed to be in Idaho and authorities there have said they will not help return them to Oregon, as they have not violated any Idaho law. Senate Republican Leader Herman Baertschiger Jr. said, “My caucus and I continue to stand firm and remain out of the state. We are working for our constituents and all Oregonians.”
Oregon’s legislative session ends on June 30 unless both chambers vote to extend it. But without a quorum, the Senate can’t hold a vote to extend. Gov. Brown has talked about calling a special session, but if she does, it’s unclear which bills might be considered. Even if the drivers’ license bill was one of them, it would still have to start again from scratch.