By Annette Quijano
I will never forget the holiday season of 2019, because I was able to give the historic gift of greater access to a driver’s license to the thousands of undocumented immigrants, domestic violence survivors, homeless, and LGBTQIA people who have been asking New Jersey to align its laws with the reality of its residents.
It was not an easy victory, and the people who worked with me deserve credit for our achievement.
Six years ago, then-Assemblyman and now-Senator Cryan and I met with Hispanic community activists to discuss their priorities.
And they told us that their only priority was access to a driver’s license, and that other states had already moved forward with expanded access to driver’s licenses, so New Jersey could benefit from their experience as we considered our own proposal.
The community told us about how hard it was to get to work, take their children to school, and get to the doctors. Things that we all take for granted.
When I introduced the bill, the idea that all residents should have access to a driver’s license was on life support.
In fact, the first time the bill was ever heard in my Assembly Homeland Security Committee, Governor Chris Christie announced that he would veto the bill before public testimony even began.
Since the beginning, many people have offered me – for better or for worse- their opinions on this incredibly complex piece of legislation.
But only a few people have been around my table working on it by offering their research, insight, and constructive criticism, or lending their necessary political skill and support to ensure its successful passage.
First, I want to thank Governor Murphy for signing the bill, Senator Vitale for carrying the legislation through the Senate, and Chief Fulton for her commitment to crafting a thorough and responsible policy for New Jersey.
Next, I want to thank all my colleagues who voted for the bill, and for the sponsors and co-sponsors whose support for the bill did not waiver.
Over the years, some of the representatives of the organizations have changed, but the commitment to the issue did not.
I want to especially thank the organizations and people who helped me carefully craft a bill that would both accomplish our goals and survive the legislative process.
- The Let’s Drive Coalition
- Sara Cullinane, Make the Road New Jersey
- Johanna Calle, Alliance for Immigrant Justice
- Farrin Anello, ACLU
- Erika Nava, New Jersey Policy Perspective
- Emy Quispe, SEIU 32BJ
- Brian Lozano, Wind of the Spirit
- Former Senate Majority Office Staffer, Rosa Farias
- Former Governor’s Associate Council Guillermo C. Antiles
- Tom Prol, Past President of the New Jersey State Bar Association, partner at Sills Cummis & Gross
Without these heroes, we would not be able to celebrate this victory.
Si Se Pudo!
Annette Quijano is the Assembywoman from the 20th Legislative District.
- Annette Quijano
- Brian Lozano
- Chris Christie
- Emy Quispe
- Erika Nava
- Farrin Anello
- Guillermo Antiles
- Joe Cryan
- Joe Vitale
- Johanna Calle
- Let's Drive NJ
- Make The Road NJ
- NJ Alliance For Immigrant Justice
- NJ Policy Perspective
- Rosa Farias
- Sara Cullinane
- Sills Cummis Gross
- Tom Prol
- Wind Of The Spirit
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