By MITCH LIES
SALEM -- A bill to allow undocumented immigrants opportunity to obtain Oregon driving privileges is headed to the Senate floor.
The joint Ways and Means Committee on April 19 moved Senate Bill 833 to the floor with only five "no" votes.
The bill stipulates the licenses will be designated as a "driver's card," distinguishing it from a regular driver's license, and be good for four years, half the duration of a standard Oregon driver's licenses.
The bill requires that applicants show proof of identity, have resided in Oregon for a year and pass written and driving skills tests before qualifying for the card.
They won't, however, need to show proof of legal presence in the country.
Cost for the short-term driver's card would be $64 under the bill, compared to a $60 cost for a standard eight-year driver's license.
Fees paid by customers are expected to cover the cost of the bill's implementation, said Amy Joyce of the Oregon Department of Transportation.
Several members of the Ways and Means Committee spoke in favor of the bill prior to the 19-5 vote.
"This bill is about public safety," Rep. Betty Komp, D-Woodburn, said. "It allows people to get insurance and to drive.
"They can get to their jobs and they can do it in a safe manner," she said.
"This is an important bill and I would encourage all of you to seriously support it. It is good for Oregon and it is good for our communities around us," Komp said.
Rep. Bob Jenson, R-Pendleton, said he expects to get some emails for constituents and not all will be in support of his "yes" vote.
"But I believe if you explain the issue to those people that the majority of those people will say, 'Good job,'" Jenson said.
SB833 is now just two steps from reaching the desk of Gov. John Kitzhaber, who is expected to sign it.
To become law, it must pass the Senate and House floors, but does not need to go through a House committee.
If passed, the bill will take effect Jan. 1 of next year.