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

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‘Driver’s Licenses for All’ Passes off the House Floor

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

SAINT PAUL, Minn. – Today, the Minnesota House passed “driver’s licenses for all”, HF 4, which would allow undocumented residents of Minnesota to earn driver’s licenses. HF 4 will help ensure that Minnesota is home to strong, inclusive, and economically vibrant communities where residents can safely get where they need to go while not risking displacement or family division. 

“Allowing all Minnesotans to earn a driver’s license is the right thing to do. For public safety, for our shared prosperity, and to honor the inherent humanity and dignity of all community members. It should have been done years ago but it’s always the right time to do the right thing,” said Rep. Gomez (DFL - Minneapolis), lead author of the bill. “I want to thank all of the advocates and organizers who built a broad and deep coalition, and especially directly impacted community members who have worked tirelessly to get this across the finish line for over a decade. This is the community’s victory.”

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.

“All Minnesotans deserve to be able to work and to take care of themselves and their families,” said Speaker Hortman. “Ensuring everyone has access to driver’s licenses will improve public safety for everyone, grow the state economy, and treat immigrant communities with the dignity and respect they deserve.”

“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 (DFL - St. Paul), co-author of the bill.

“The years-long, community-led effort to pass House File 4 has assembled one of the broadest coalitions imaginable in support of this bill: law enforcement, chambers of commerce, agribusiness, faith-based organizations and workers’ rights advocates,” said House Majority Leader Jamie Long. “This bill is about safety. This is about respect. This is about dignity. This is the year Minnesota restores driver’s licenses for all and makes our roads safer for everyone.”

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.

You can watch the presentation and testimony of the bill here. The bill now awaits passage by the Senate.