Representative Flores and Thatcher on license rules

State Representatives Linda Flores and Kim Thatcher have submitted comments on the new proposed rules to enhance the security of Oregon’s Drivers’ Licenses below:

We are cautiously optimistic about the direction the Driver and Motor Vehicle Services Division is headed with these proposed rule changes. Optimistic, because for several years we’ve listened to federal immigration agents, law enforcement and others testify about thousands of people who are in the country illegally coming to Oregon to get a drivers’ license — many for “nefarious purposes” according to Governor Kulongoski. We believe these new administrative rules will help reduce that activity. However, we are very concerned about some underlying management issues as well as policy issues.

Numerous times in recent years DMV managers have told legislators, in testimony and in writing, the agency could not carry out the changes you are now proposing without statutory authority. In other words, DMV was not legally able to make changes without a bill passing in the Legislature. This rulemaking process raises serious questions about the credibility of the information provided to the legislature by those in management. Another example involves the cost estimates by DMV to implement the new federal license law enacted by Congress in 2005. Those estimates went from $10 million to $70 million in the space of a year. If adopting stricter rules for drivers’ licenses is so expensive, where is the funding going to come from for these rule changes?

DMV needs to be clear with Oregonians; technically these new rules will not require legal presence. The Legislature will still need to make that happen. Verifying Social Security Numbers doesn’t guarantee a person is here legally. The new federal standards require more proof of legal status, and we need those standards in Oregon. These draft rules still allow someone with a 6-month visa to get an 8-year drivers’ license. We understand limiting licenses to match expiration dates on visas would be up to the Legislature as well. These new rules are a step in the right direction, but they will not get us in line with federal law. That also requires action by the Legislature.

A few weeks ago at a meeting of state legislators from across the country, U.S. Department of Homeland Security Assistant Secretary Richard Barth referred to recent polls showing 82% of Americans support the new federal guidelines. He also said his agency is about to release new regulations to lower the costs to states and add more flexibility. 31 states enacted tougher immigration laws on drivers’ licenses and identification cards this year. It’s time Oregon joined them.

We’ve been pushing to get Oregon on board with the new national standards for nearly three years. The deadline to file an extension is February 2008. We urge DMV to request an extension as soon as possible and work with the legislature to get our state on the right path toward full implementation of the federal law. We support these new rules but wish they went much farther. Please let us know if we can be of assistance.


Linda Flores
State Representative

Kim Thatcher
State Representative