Legislature sidestepped citizen input on SB 833

Guest Opinions
Legislature sidestepped citizen input on SB 833

Oct. 25, 2013 11:29 PM |

Written by
David Cross
Guest opinion

Senate Bill 833, passed by the Oregon Legislature and signed into law on May 1 by Gov. John Kitzhaber, will undermine Senate Bill 1080, legislation passed in 2008 that requires legal presence in the state to obtain an Oregon driver’s license.

There was no justification for the Legislature and governor to make SB 833 state law this year allowing those without documentation to obtain access to a pseudo-driver’s license — called a driver card.

Looking back to 2012, when opponents to the issuance of driver’s licenses to the undocumented found out about proposed legislation that would change the legal-presence requirement, they asked to participate in what was then called the Governor’s Driver License Task Force. They were completely shut out.

Exclusion of public input continued even after SB 833 was introduced during the regular 2013 legislative session.

To avoid scrutiny or critiques of the legislation, pro-SB 833 legislators dominated with their own testimony during most of the time they made available for public oral testimony on the legislation. Before hearing from citizens who had signed up to speak in opposition, the Senate committee chair invited lengthy oral testimony from an alleged undocumented mother accompanied by her small child, a political ploy known as “baby waving.”

It gets worse; to avoid further public scrutiny of SB 833 that might reveal possible flaws in the legislation, the senators and representatives controlling the legislative process used a tactic of moving the legislation from the Senate directly to the House floor for a debate and vote, sidestepping the normal procedure of hearings in both chambers.

To open up the democratic process to citizens shunned by the pro-SB 833 cabal in the governor’s office and Legislature, state Reps. Kim Thatcher and Sal Esquivel, along with Richard F. LaMountain, vice president of Oregonians for Immigration Reform, stepped forward and placed their names on Oregon referendum 301. The referendum campaign’s being successful would stop SB 833 from becoming state law on Jan. 1, 2014, and instead would place the legislative decision before Oregon voters in November 2014.

With guidance from OFIR and the Protect Oregon Driver Licenses Committee, in a nonpartisan effort, Oregonians worked together and gathered in just more than four months 70,973 referendum signatures that were turned into the state elections office by the Oct. 4 deadline.

On Oct. 18, after the first statistical check by state election officials of 1,000 referendum petition signees, election officials validated the signatures of 58,291 registered Oregon voters, more than the minimum number of signatures the referendum campaign needed.

The 70,973 registered Oregon voters who signed the referendum did their homework. These Oregonians understand there is simply no data to back up proponents’ claims that making SB 833 a state law will make Oregon’s roads any safer.

David Olen Cross of Salem writes on immigration issues and foreign national crime. He can be reached at docfnc@yahoo.com.



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