Senate Bill 833, passed by the Oregon Legislature and signed into law on May 1st by Governor Kitzhaber will undermine Senate Bill 1080, legislation passed in 2008 that requires legal presence in the state to obtain an Oregon Driver License (ODL).

Ever since the passage SB 1080, the Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has been required by Oregon law (House Bill 3624) to provide an annual report on the number persons driving without licenses or insurance.

In a report filed on Jan. 1 by DMV Administrator Tom McClellan, he imparts: “Four years after implementing a legal presence requirement in Oregon, changes in driver licensing requirements have not had a major impact on the rate of unlicensed and uninsured driving.”

Translation, there is no current documentation available since the passage of SB 1080 in 2008 that more people legally or not legally present in the state are driving unlicensed and uninsured.

Oregonians should realize by now there was no justification for the Oregon legislature and governor to make SB 833 state law this year allowing those without documentation to obtain access to a pseudo-ODL — called a driver card.

Looking back to 2012, when opponents to the issuance of ODLs to the undocumented found out about proposed legislation that would change the legal presence requirement to obtain an ODL, they asked to participate in what was then called the “Governor’s Driver License Task Force.”

After repeated requests to the governor’s office by opponents asking to participate or attend Driver License Task Force meetings, they were told the Task Force didn’t exist by state capital employees working in the governor’s office.

Not believing the veracity of employees in the governor’s office claims there was no “Governor’s Driver License Task Force,” opponents filed two Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests addressed to the governor’s office asking for the names of Task Force members and meeting minutes.

Both FOIA requests were denied by the governor’s legal counsel. An appeal was filed and that appeal was rejected by the attorney general’s office.

Thus, opponents representing the public interest were completely shut out.

Exclusion of public input continued even after SB 833 was introduced during the regular 2013 Oregon State Legislature legislative session.

To avoid scrutiny or critiques of the legislation, pro-SB 833 Legislators dominated with their own testimony most of the time they made available for public oral testimony on the legislation. Before hearing from citizens who had signed up to speak in opposition, the Senate Committee Chair invited lengthy testimony from an alleged undocumented mother accompanied by her small child, a political ploy known as “baby waving.”

To open up the democratic process to citizens shunned by the pro-SB 833 cabal in the governor’s office and state legislature, Oregon State representatives stepped forward and placed their names on Oregon referendum 301. The referendum, if successful, would stop SB 833 from becoming state law and place the legislative decision before registered Oregon voters in Nov. 2014.

Oregonians worked together and gathered in just over four months 70,973 referendum signatures that were turned into the state elections office by the Oct. 4 deadline.

The 70,973 thousand registered Oregon voters who signed the referendum 301 petition did their homework. These Oregonians understand there simply are no data to backup proponents’ claims that making SB 833 a state law will make Oregon’s roads any safer.


David Olen of Salem writes on immigration issues and foreign national crime.

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