A bill from Senator Scott Surovell (D-Mount Vernon) that would have authorized the Department of Motor Vehicles to issue driver privilege cards to drivers who can prove that they pay Virginia income tax, who have valid car insurance, and who meet statewide driving and road safety standards was passed by indefinitely on a 7-6, party line vote.
Said Senator Surovell, “This bill is absolutely necessary and here’s why: first, we are incentivizing people to pay Virginia income taxes. We’re looking at increasing our general fund revenues by at least $500 million per year. Second, this is a public safety issue. States that have adopted similar measures have seen a reduction in accidents of up to 10% because people are required to learn the rules of the road. There are fewer hit and run cases, and people are more likely to interact with government – for example in cases of domestic violence, or when they have witnessed a crime. My bill would have benefited up to 300,000 people who have come to Virginia in pursuit of a better life. If we are truly committed to building a New Virginia Economy – one that works for any Virginian who is willing to work hard and pay their taxes, and play by the rules – then these are exactly the type of measures that we need to be adopting. I am disappointed that my Republican colleagues fail to see this.”
Said Senator Dave Marsden (D-Fairfax), “Generally speaking, it is a good thing to bring people out of the shadows. It encourages responsible behavior and it does not conflict with the responsibilities of the federal government. It makes our Commonwealth safer and it makes life more livable by those who are here. If the federal government removes these folks from the United States that is the federal government’s business. But we have an obligation to run our Commonwealth in an orderly and sane manner, and make sure that all people living in the Commonwealth are encouraged to the extent possible to act in responsible ways and I think this bill does that.”
Said Senator John Edwards (D-Roanoke), “Nobody can have a job today as a practical matter unless you have a drivers license. The idea that just because somebody’s undocumented they can’t get a license has never made any sense to me. The federal government has the unique and exclusive authority over immigration issues. Congress should act if it wants to deal with the immigration question. But Virginia should make sure that people who have passed the license test and are otherwise qualified to drive from the standpoint of passing the test and all the rest, they ought to have the right to drive – it is essential for them to get a job.