By State Representative Steve Owens, State Representative John Lawn & State Senator Will Brownsberger
This past June, the legislature approved an important advancement for road safety and immigrant rights in Massachusetts by voting the Work and Family Mobility Act into law. This law allows all Massachusetts residents to apply for a driver’s license, regardless of their immigration status.
Years in the making and backed by law enforcement, immigrant advocates, and organized labor, the law passed overwhelmingly with support of more than three-quarters of the Massachusetts House and Senate. This new measure will ensure that all drivers on our roads are licensed and insured.
Unfortunately, this law is now in jeopardy; an opposition group obtained enough signatures to attempt to repeal the law on the November 8th ballot. Now the voters of the Commonwealth will decide its fate. As Watertown’s state legislative delegation, we strongly support voting YES on Question 4 this Election Day to preserve the Work and Family Mobility Act and improve road safety for all Massachusetts drivers.
Endorsed by the Massachusetts Major Cities Chiefs of Police and the majority of Massachusetts Sheriffs and District Attorneys — including Middlesex County DA Marian Ryan and Middlesex Sheriff Peter Koutoujian — Yes on 4 has overwhelming support from law enforcement. They understand our roads are safer with more licensed drivers. Allowing all residents to apply for a driver’s license means ensuring that every Massachusetts driver has fulfilled our state’s testing, training, and insurance requirements. It also means that every driver will have a verified ID.
This is a tested idea: 16 other states, including our neighbors in Connecticut, New York and Vermont, have passed similar laws and have seen marked increases in road safety. States that have collected data show impressive results, including a 10 percent decrease in hit and run accidents in California, and an 80 percent decrease in the rate of uninsured drivers in Utah. With more insured drivers on the road, the cost of auto insurance drops for all drivers.
The law preserved by Yes on 4 does not allow non-citizens to vote nor does it automatically register non-citizens to vote. Non-citizens such as Green Card holders or those with student visas are already allowed to apply for driver’s licenses, as are 16- and 17-year-olds who are too young to vote. The law puts in place stringent proof of identity requirements for immigrants without status who apply for licenses and keeps in place all safeguards against non-citizen voting.
Yes on 4 enables all state residents to safely get to work, drive their kids to school, and go to the doctor. Yes on 4 improves public safety and well-being in the Commonwealth by ensuring more drivers on the roads are properly trained, tested, and insured. If you are in favor of safer roads, we encourage you to please vote Yes on 4 this Election Day.
Safer roads and improves public safety, really! Since the ACLU’s racial profiling law, then the pandemic, law enforcements control or lack of has contributed to the complete wild west show of the motoring publics lack of obeying the law, which has the safety of the law abiding drivers in complete jeopardy. Sit at a red light, it turns green, how many cars run the light? How about I don’t feel like waiting for the light, let me drive into the oncoming traffic because i’m just that important that the rules don’t apply to me. Driving down King St. the other day, a driver on the wrong side of Carey Ave. didn’t stop at the sign or maybe didn’t see it, hit the brakes as he almost drove into me. Just think if the Cunniff was letting out, and someone got hit while walking. This isn’t about for or against Question 4, it’s about safer roads/public safety and they brought it up here and in the ads. As told the “right to operate a motor vehicle in Massachusetts is a privilege not a right”. Never mind the chaos out on the highways, this is right here in little old Watertown, if your tired of it please speak up we deserve better
People who drive should be tested and licensed and insured. This is a no-brainer!
And yes, driver etiquette is awful. But that has nothing to do with tracking data on racial profiling! We have done this since early 2002. I know because I helped to write the law!
Well Paul, people who drive without a license shouldn’t & should be arrested, no brainer there1 Congratulations for writing a law, my statement was & is since it went into effect it has gotten worse out there driving. Yea facts matter, it’s about people’s driving habits not tracking data nor profiling
Thanks for your comment, but please refrain from personally addressing other commenters.
Bravo to the Watertown State House Delegation! Thanks for supporting Yes On 4, and highlighting the support of law enforcement.
The facts bear repeating. “States that have collected data show impressive results, including a 10 percent decrease in hit and run accidents in California, and an 80 percent decrease in the rate of uninsured drivers in Utah. With more insured drivers on the road, the cost of auto insurance drops for all drivers.”
And “The RMV, MassHealth, and Health Connector collect information about lawful presence in the United States and they will not submit names to local election officials of any persons they have determined are not U.S. citizens.”
How can a person become a Massachusetts resident if their immigration status is not in order?
Therefore they are not a resident and should not vote or get a drivers license.
This law has nothing to do with voting. Nothing.
Right one still has to prove citizenship to register to vote. A driver’s license doesn’t qualify as such proof.
Illegal aliens should not be in our country, period. Much less should they be given access to a privilege, namely a driver’s license. I also question how our Democratic legislators will scrutinize the voter registration triggered by the driver’s license approval.
Slippery slope again and again in our beloved Commonwealth. Of course our State Delegation supports it. I suppose they are also a YES for all other questions in the referendum. Get ready for graduated tax after they pass Question 1.
Plus 38 states including Texas and Florida issue licenses to DACA individuals.
Key wording here is “regardless of immigration status”, as in, a person can be living in this country “illegally”, breaking the laws of this country by doing so, and yet qualify to be able to drive a vehicle. How can these people guarantee that the immigrants are driving an insured vehicle, since so many are already driving without license, registration and insurance? The only time that those approving such a measure will have second thoughts will be when a member of their family is killed or seriously injured by an “undocumented driver” with a driver’s license.
This law is based on a lot of assumptions and we all know what the word ASS U ME can mean. Yes, there are illegals who are careful driving, but there are many others who are not. We see them on the news all the time, but the media won’t say the word illegal in the news. They are represented by lawyers who have to interpret for the offenders because they don’t speak English, which creates a whole other problem if we need to communicate at an accident scene. Many of them are caught driving without a license and/or driving without legal registrations on cars. They often don’t have their own cars and borrow them, and some of them don’t have proper insurance. Sadly, some of them are caught after serious accidents.
I know of a case where a man’s son was hit by an illegal who couldn’t speak English and had no insurance on the car and the son was seriously injured. The man’s son ended up in the hospital, was out of work for a long time, had to go through a lot of physical therapy, had to pay a lot of medical bills and had to buy a new car as a result of the accident. All the officer could do at the time was give a ticket to the illegal and send him on his way.
When the hearing date came up in court, the offender never showed up in court, surprise! it was discovered that the illegal left the country and went back to his “home” country. Many of these illegals don’t feel that the US is their true home and they don’t have respect for our laws as they’ve never taken an oath of allegiance to it. They broke the first law by coming here without going through the proper channels as our ancestors had to do.
With this law we are just encouraging MA to be a sanctuary state for those who know we have liberal laws and excellent benefits. In the last couple weeks groups of illegals are suddenly showing up in towns like Methuen and Kingston. The state admits they sent them there without any notice and the mayors had to scramble to find emergency housing, food, clothing, etc. for them. The most recent group admits they bought their own bus tickets to get here. The federal government has been secretly doing this in many states and cities for quite some time. With the open southern border it is said 2 million illegals have come across in the last few months.
By giving previously only US citizen benefits to these people, like driving, the illegals will continue to come to our cities in MA. We don’t have enough housing for our veterans, people who can’t keep their apartments in these incredibly high inflationary times, legal refugees from other countries and others. We are a compassionate people, but our schools and social services are being overwhelmed by allowing these situations. This is not benefiting anyone in the long run. Let’s put laws in place and enforce them, but let’s not generate laws that encourage people to come here to take advantage of our good nature.
We need to vote NO on this ballot question. The people have spoken by working hard to get the needed number of signatures to get this issue on the ballot.
The assumptions in this post are biased beyond reason. It’s a real shame.
There are quite a few assumptions in this response. For example, the people have spoken doesn’t include the people such as law enforcement, religious houses and others who worked through the legislation to create this law. Another is that all undocumented people come from the southern border, when in fact they come via planes. Most undocumented persons are Europeans who overstay their visas. As for accidents it will help law enforcement to solve crimes when there is some identification on record . Like it or not undocumented workers will continue to come as long as business es continue to hire them. So rather than bemoan the situation by throwing out assumptions, give law enforcement the tools to mitigate the situation. Law enforcement thinks Yes on 4 is sensible because they recognize what is actually going on, as do insurance companies. Closing the southern border is nothing more than a bandaid because it doesn’t address root causes.
I agree. Enough is enough.
Everybody I know is voting NO on number 4 because it is the right thing to do. Biases or assumptions have nothing to do with it.
That’s your opinion. And it appears that the majority of voters disagree with you. And there are tons of biases and assumptions at play here!
I don’t think so.
Your are entitled to your opinions; facts, however, may be a different thing for you.
I think the Governor put it best:
In his veto message, Governor Baker said:
“I cannot sign this legislation because it requires the Registry of Motor Vehicles to issue state credentials to people without the ability to verify their identity. The Registry does not have the expertise or ability to verify the validity of many types of documents from other countries..Consequently, a standard Massachusetts driver’s license will no longer confirm that a person is who they say they are.”
Governor Baker continued, “This bill significantly increases the risk that noncitizens will be registered to vote.
But I’m sure you’ll disagree with that as well.
I do disagree. The Governor was wrong here and the Legislature overrode his veto. Now the voters get to decide. But it should be based on facts, not fears.
The ability to drive safely and predictably on Mass. roads isn’t determined by ethnic heritage of birthplace. It’s determined — for a start –by knowing what is demanded of drivers regarding things like “Yield”, “Right of Way,” a yellow light, “pedestrian,” pavement striping, speed limit, liability, insurance, etc. Too many “undocumented” immigrants lack language ability and understanding of such things, but they, nonetheless, need and manage to get a car (by paying cash to a friend, e.g.) to meet necessities — to get to work, school, food stores, medical offices, and yes, socializing. But way too many do that with no idea how they are expected to drive here.
They need an incentive and a requirement to get their own license *by learning the laws and conventions* before getting one. Obviously, a license doesn’t ever guarantee safe driving, but it might prevent some bad T-boning at an intersection with a “yield” sign because the driver has no idea who goes first when. (Or — cross your fingers — a highway nightmare because someone thinks the route number is the speed limit or vice versa. It’s happened.)
Licensed drivers get into trouble too, but at least they know (usually) what they’re supposed to be doing. And if you suffer injury due to their negligence, at least they might actually have insurance.
This measure, when passed in other states, demonstrably drops the accident rate. A drivers’ license isn’t a reward for anything but rather an important step in being clear on what is required of a driver.
Thanks for you comment, PC. Can you sign your full first name?
All sensible points. If Utah recognizes this, and Florida and Texas do so with DACA, as a valid approach to an existing problem, then so can other states. I agree that it isn’t a reward but a mechanism to create safer roads and keep premiums down. The southern border can be sealed tomorrow, but without any genuine immigration reform the problem will persist.