The Assembly Judiciary Committee this afternoon passed A-4743, which would allow the state to issue drivers’ licenses to residents unable to prove lawful residency.
The committee tally was 4-2, along party lines.
It sparked some debate along the way in a packed hearing, but ultimately moved under the leadership of Assemblywoman Annette Quijano (D-20), chair of the Judiciary Committee and a prime co-sponsor of the bill, who had traveled to California to gather information about the thorny subject.
“This legislation creates a pathway for a New Jersey resident to acquire a driver’s license, register their vehicle and insure their vehicle,” Quijano said. “This bill does not impact any U.S Citizenship requirements. We know this legislation will change thousands of lives in the Garden State, a state with both urban, suburban and rural communities that require residents to drive a car to get from point A to point B.”
The fiercest critic on the committee, Assemblyman Erik Peterson (R-23) voted no.
“I opposition this legislation because it confers privileges on those who have knowingly violated our laws,” said the Hunterdon-based Republican Assemblyman.
Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll (R-25) also voted no.
The Republicans issued a joint statement outlining their reasons for opposing the bill, and InsiderNJ reprinted it below.
Democrats Quijano (full statement below), Assemblyman Bill Spearman, Assemblyman Gordon Johnson, and Assemblywoman Carol Murphy voted yes.
Among the last to testify was a nine-year old child named David who once challenged Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-19) to post the drivers’ licenses bill.
Today he urged the committee to follow through on their promise to get this legislation done.
“I’m sick and tired,” he griped.
Bill co-sponsor Murphy in her remarks prior to voting in favor of the bill promised the child that she would also be voting yes on the floor of the Assembly.
“Keep raising your voice,” she told him.
“The solid Yays in the senate is at 17 so we are a bit worried about it,” a source – referring to the legislation – told InsiderNJ. “The assembly looks better.”
Legislators in LD1, 2, 4 and 38 are described as “nervous” about A-4743, the source added.
In response to the Assembly Judiciary Committee’s approval of A4743, Tatiana Rodriguez, who testified before the committee and is member of Make the Road New Jersey and Elizabeth resident gave the following statement:
“Today the Assembly Judiciary Committee took a key step in expanding access to drivers licenses for all qualified drivers, regardless of immigration status. As an immigrant who came here as a twelve year old, but who cannot get a license since the Trump administration ended the DACA program, I am grateful for the committees vote. Having a license means being able to take my son to the doctor, and to his soccer games. I am so proud to be part of a movement fighting for justice for our families, and I am confident we will get this bill across the finish line. Thank you to Assemblywoman Annette Quijano for her extraordinary leadership.”
According to the language in the bill, A-4743 creates two categories of basic driver’s licenses, motorcycle licenses, probationary licenses, and non-driver identification cards (hereinafter referred to collectively as licenses and identification cards).
Under the bill passed by the Judiciary Committee, a person may apply for a standard license or identification card or a REAL ID license or identification card. A REAL ID license or identification card is to comply with the provisions of the federal “REAL ID Act of 2005,” any amendatory or supplementary acts, and any federal regulations adopted thereunder. Under the bill, the fee for a REAL ID license or identification card is greater than the fee for a standard license or identification card.
The bill allows a New Jersey resident who meets requirements for the issuance of a license or identification, but who is unable to prove lawful presence in the United States to receive a standard license or identification card if the person provides satisfactory proof of identity and age, two documents providing proof of New Jersey residency, and proof of the person’s social security number. If the person applying for a standard license or identification card does not have a social security number, the person is required to indicate, in a manner prescribed by the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC), that the person is not eligible to receive a social security number.
Quijano issued the following statement after the panel’s vote on the bill A-4743 expanding access to driver’s licenses for New Jersey residents:
“This legislation from the very beginning has been a complicated work in progress with many moving parts. Ensuring all eligible New Jersey residents have access to greater independence with a driver’s license or identification card in the wake of Real IDs also posing an affordability and access concern required a keen attention to detail. One of the main purposes of the legislation was to ensure safer roads and more insured drivers in New Jersey.
“I have consistently met with representatives of various department and agencies in our state as well as advocacy groups to create a bill that meets the greater intent, which is driver’s licenses for all.
“I visited California to see what they have done, right and wrong, in order to craft a fair and responsible measure that works for New Jersey. I also met with consulates to discuss a variety of topics related to our efforts including how they verify documents.
“This legislation creates a pathway for a New Jersey resident to acquire a driver’s license, register their vehicle and insure their vehicle. This bill does not impact any U.S Citizenship requirements.
“We know this legislation will change thousands of lives in the Garden State, a state with both urban, suburban and rural communities that require residents to drive a car to get from point A to point B.
“We have heard over the course of two years residents and advocates raise their voices in favor of this legislation. I want to say clearly that we heard you. Our intention has always been to put forth a bill that is effective and takes into account the concerns of all stakeholders. We would rather get it right than create more obstacles for residents or an unnecessary burden on state departments.
“The focus of this hearing today was to listen to all who signed up to testify in favor or against. We will continue to consider proposals on the bill that we received as late as Sunday. I believe this was a productive day and a step in the legislative process.”2019-Minority-Statement-A4743