Mass. State Senate Passes Driver's License Expansion Bill

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BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — The Massachusetts State Senate passed a bill that would legalize drivers licenses for undocumented immigrants Thursday.

The measure passed by a vote of 32 to 8, crossing the two-thirds threshold needed to avoid a veto from Governor Charlie Baker. Five Democrats joined the Senate's three Republicans in dissent.

The bill would eliminate the need for someone to show "proof of lawful presence" when applying for a driver's license, as long as they meet all of the other requirements, which include Mass. residency and date of birth.

It would also prevent officials from asking about or creating a record of someone's citizenship or immigration status, except as required by state or federal laws.

Proponents of the bill argued that immigrants in Massachusetts without legal status will be properly tested before getting behind the wheel.

Governor Baker, who has come out against this and similar legislation, said the state Registry of Motor Vehicles would be "flying blind" should the legislature pass the bill, and that it would make it easier for undocumented immigrants to vote, according to the State House News Service.

The bill will now move back to the Massachusetts House for further consideration, after the House easily passed a similar bill with a veto-proof majority, 120-36, on February 16.

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