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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Aisha Gomez (DFL)

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‘Driver’s Licenses for All’ Passes out of First House Committee

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

SAINT PAUL, Minn. – Today, the Minnesota House Transportation Committee passed “driver’s licenses for all”, HF 4, which would allow undocumented residents of Minnesota to earn driver’s licenses. Representatives Aisha Gomez (DFL-Minneapolis) and María Isa Pérez-Vega (DFL-Saint Paul) are leading efforts on the legislation.

“Minnesota needs to restore access for all residents of the state to drive regardless of immigration status. Having the ability to obtain a driver’s license should be viewed as a human right and a necessity for all of our communities to be safe commuting and traveling on our roads. Parents, workers, students, and the many great folks who do so much to build our diverse economy deserve access to driving legally with a license,” said Rep. María Isa Pérez-Vega.

With an estimated 81,000 undocumented immigrants in Minnesota, this measure would allow them and their families to complete necessary daily tasks like driving to work, dropping kids off at school, or attending medical appointments. This bill will increase safety and justice across Minnesota by allowing these residents to travel openly, once they pass standard licensing exams and tests. Similar bills in other states have been shown to reduce hit-and-run accidents by 7-10%.

“It's long past time we allow everyone in our community to earn a driver’s license,” said Rep. Gomez. “I want to thank all of the tireless advocates, organizations, and undocumented community members who have worked hard to get this across the finish line for two decades.”

"Our roads and state will be safer as a result of this legislation,” said Rep. Frank Hornstein, House Transportation Finance and Policy committee chair. “Whether it's driving to work, school, or a medical appointment, HF 4 recognizes the need for all our neighbors to access the state’s transportation system, regardless of immigration status."

Requiring that one show proof of lawful admission to the United State in order to obtain a Minnesota driver’s license was a relatively recent change under Governor Pawlenty in 2003. Since that time, there have been numerous efforts to repeal this discriminatory practice, including in 2019 when it passed off the DFL-led House Floor, but was blocked by the Senate GOP.

You can watch the presentation and testimony of the bill here. The next stop for the bill will be the House Judiciary and Civil Law Committee this Thursday, January 12 at 8:30 a.m.