Safe Driving Bill Sent to Study

Advocates Vow to Come Back Stronger Next Session

Community disappointed but undefeated by Committee's failure to pass a bill that would allow all drivers to become trained, licensed and insured

June 23, 2014 BOSTON — The Joint Committee on Transportation voted today to send to study the Safe Driving Bill, H. 3285. Members of the Safe Driving Coalition reacted to the news with disappointment but without discouragement, vowing to revive a bill that would remove immigration status as a barrier to getting a Massachusetts driver's license, thereby helping to ensure that all drivers on the road are trained, licensed and ensured.

"We may be disappointed but we are not deterred," said Representative Tricia Farley-Bouvier, the lead House sponsor of the bill. "We have built a great coalition over the last two years, and by next session that momentum will be undeniable, as the importance of Safe Driving legislation becomes more understood here and across the nation. We may not have prevailed this year, but next year we'll win a victory for safer roads for everyone."

"The minority that opposes this bill is small and extreme, but very, very loud," said Natalicia Tracy, Director of the Brazilian Immigrant Center. "Perhaps their voices made some Committee members worry more about the safety of their seats than the safety of our roads. But even the polls from  Fox News and by Boston Herald columnist Michael Graham, showed support for this bill runs to 70 or 80 percent. We have to continue educating legislators and rallying the public behind the sensibility of allowing all otherwise qualified residents the chance to earn a driver's license."

Gladys Ortiz, an advocate with REACH Beyond Domestic Violence said, "I have been encouraged by the understanding that has been shown by those legislators who have met with me and the women I represent. I have also been inspired by the 500 immigrants and supporters who showed up at the Safe Driving Coalition forums in Marlborough and Waltham. And I know that if we continue to show how this bill will increase the safety and security of all residents, then we will prevail."

"Legislators are absolutely mistaken if they believe that somehow we are more secure if we leave a portion of our residents without any form of identification," said Lucy Piñeda, Executive Director of Latinos Unidos en Massachusetts (LUMA). "And they're absolutely mistaken if they believe that immigrants in this state, fifty percent of whom are naturalized citizens, do not vote."

"Eight states as well as the District of Columbia have recently adopted this legislation," said Eva Millona, Executive Director of the MIRA Coalition. "These include our own neighbors Connecticut and Vermont. Massachusetts should not be lagging behind in this effort to increase insurance coverage and decrease accidents. It's too important to parents who need to take kids to the doctors, to victims of domestic violence who can't physically escape without a license, to police who need to know who they're interacting with on the roads. They and so many others will continue to raise their voices until the legislature has the courage to do what they know is right."