By MITCH LIES
SALEM -- A bill to allow undocumented immigrants an opportunity to obtain Oregon driving privileges is now one step from the desk of Gov. John Kitzhaber.
The Oregon Senate on April 23 gave its endorsement to Senate Bill 833, which calls for the state to issue a short-term "driver's card" to applicants who meet certain conditions.
Senate Bill 833 stipulates the licenses will be issued as "driver's cards" to distinguish it from a regular driver's license.
The driver's card would 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.
They won't, however, need to show proof of legal presence in the country.
The short-term license could not be used as identification for boarding commercial airlines, to enter certain federal buildings or to buy a gun or to vote.
The cost of 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.
The Senate voted 20-7 to move the bill to the House floor after little discussion.
Only Sen. Chuck Thomsen, R-Hood River, a bill sponsor, and Sen. Lee Beyer, D-Springfield, spoke on the bill before the vote.
"We're talking about a card which is proof that someone knows the driving laws of the state and has demonstrated their ability to drive," Beyer said.
"This does not give them an ID card that allows them to get on an airplane," Beyer said. "This is purely about driver safety ... that we know that our fellow drivers know what they are doing."
Tim Raphael, Kitzhaber's communications director, said the governor will sign the bill if it reaches his desk.
The bill now goes to the House floor.
If passed, the bill's provisions will take effect Jan. 1 of next year.