Senate transportation omnibus bill expands access to driver’s licenses

Clark Biegler
May 05, 2015

The Senate transportation omnibus budget bill (House File 4) would expand economic opportunity for Minnesotans by allowing them to apply for a driver’s license, regardless of immigration status.

For many Minnesotans, the daily activities we do to support our families, like getting to work safely, dropping children off at school, or buying groceries, requires driving. But too many of our neighbors cannot apply for a driver’s license.

Having a driver’s license can open a door to greater economic opportunity for immigrants that has a positive ripple effect on the state’s economy. Workers are able to get to their jobs safely and reliably, and can get to more job opportunities. With a large share of the population aging out of the workforce, Minnesota can’t afford to leave qualified workers on the sidelines because they are unable to get to work. As these Minnesotans are able to increase their earnings, that also creates a boost in consumer spending that’s good for our state economy. This provision also keeps our roads safer by requiring everyone to take a driving test before they’re behind the wheel.

The provision in the Senate transportation omnibus bill would allow immigrants to show a valid passport accompanied by a birth certificate as acceptable identification to apply for a driver’s license.

The House and Senate transportation bills are being discussed in a conference committee where their differences will be worked out. Policymakers should include policies in their final transportation budget that expand economic opportunity, and increasing access to driver’s licenses is one policy that meets that criteria.

-Clark Biegler