Drivers License for All bill passes Minnesota House as hundreds rally
Saint Paul, MN – Hundreds of immigrants and supporters rallied in the State Capitol for five hours outside the House of Representatives chamber January 30. They were demanding the House pass House File 4, the Drivers License for All bill that would allow undocumented immigrants to get a drivers license in Minnesota again, as they were able to before 2003 when then-Governor Pawlenty took away that right.
Inside the House chamber, Representatives debated the bill, as Republicans threw up a flurry of amendments to try to weaken or derail the bill. All hostile amendments were defeated. When the final vote came, HF4 passed on a party-line vote, 69-60. Importantly, they passed a clean version of the bill which doesn’t create a “marked” license different than a regular license. This has been a debate within the immigrant rights movement for many years.
When the vote count was announced and the lead authors of the bill, Representatives Maria Isa and Aisha Gomez, rushed out to greet the people, and the gathered crowd burst into cheers and chants of “¡Si se puede!”
The Drivers License for All bill has languished at the capitol for about 15 years. It has come close to passing several times but was repeatedly sacrificed at the end of the legislative session for political expediency. This year is different. The years of work immigrant rights organizers have done to build a majority willing to pass the bill is finally bearing fruit.
The next step in the legislative process is for the Senate to finish the bill’s committee process then vote on it in the full Senate. Governor Tim Walz has already pledged to sign the bill. While Democrats only have a slim one-vote majority in the Senate, activists and analysts are optimistic that the bill will also pass the Senate, as the broad coalition of immigrant rights organizations and allies keeps the pressure on.
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