Salem, OR--Rep. Gene Whisnant (R-Sunriver) was one of 20 "no" votes on SB 833 B, which passed on the House floor today with 38 ayes and 20 nays. The bill already passed the Senate with 20 ayes and 7 nays, and Gov. John Kitzhaber announced today that he will speak at the annual May Day rally on the steps of the Capitol tomorrow and sign SB 833.
"I am very supportive of the Oregon industries which supported this legislation," Rep. Whisnant said. "However, I disagree with the supporters' statement that this bill is a public safety measure designed to improve traffic safety."
SB 833-B allows many to obtain an Oregon "driver card," but there is no way to require those receiving a driver card to purchase insurance. Officials from New Mexico, which has a similar program, report that before they passed their law, an estimated 49,000 undocumented immigrants resided there. Since the law went into effect, some 80,000 licenses have been issued in New Mexico. Before New Mexico passed its law in 2000, 26.3 percent of its drivers were uninsured and in 2009, 25.7 percent were uninsured. That is the second highest rate in the United States.
New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez wants to repeal the law, citing concerns about fraud, human trafficking, organized crime and national security concern.
USA Today reported on February 24, 2006 that "Tennessee stopped issuing driving certificates to illegal immigrants Friday after investigations found they were being shuttled from other states, using fake residency papers and sometimes bribing state workers to get the cards."
"My 'no' vote was based upon the same concerns as New Mexico's Governor and on the fact that this bill does not serve as an Oregon public safety measure," Rep. Whisnant said. "The issue of illegal immigration is a federal one. We all should be pressuring our federal elected officials to solve this security issue: not creating state solutions that open state borders to security issues."