Transportation Committee Releases Driver’s Licenses Bill

Insider NJ's Fred Snowflack discusses how Gov. Phil Murphy's absence at a ceremony held by Senator Joe Vitale to commemorate the signing of a bill by the governor that expand the rights of sexual abuse victims is very telling.

The Senate Transportation Committee this afternoon passed Senate Bill 3229, which would enable residents living illegally in New Jersey to obtain driver’s licenses.

The vote was 5-2, and it broke down along party lines as follows:

Senator Nellie Pou (D-35): Yes

Senator Joe Vitale (the bill’s sponsor): Yes

Senator Nia Gill: Yes

Senator Nick Sacco: Yes

Senator Bob Singer: No

Senator Mike Testa: No

Senator Pat Diegnan: Yes

Saddled with a list of people wanting to testify that would have dragged the hearing into late


afternoon/early evening, Transportation Committee Chairman Pat Diegnan (D-18) curtailed speaking times and, with regret, chopped off numerous scheduled testifiers.

“It’s going to pass [out of committee] today,” Irish immigrant milkman’s son Diegnan promised those who had traveled to speak on behalf of the bill.

“Why would you come here if you didn’t want to do the right thing,” the chairman told the crowd. “This is an opportunity for folks who want to play by the rules to play by the rules. In my 18 years in the legiuslaure there has never been a bill more to the spirit of this country.”

It passed, as he said it would.

“You have done what others feared to do but always wanted to do,” Senator Nia Gill (D-34) – who joined S-3229 as a prime sponsor – told the bill’s champion’s.

She met cheers.

State Senator Robert Singer, a veteran lawmaker from Ocean County, wants to be removed from the select legislative committee formed by Senate President Steve Sweeney to examine the NJ Economic Development Authority (NJEDA).
State Senator Robert Singer, (R-30).

Opposing the bill, state Senator Robert Singer (R-30) grilled Motor Vehicle Commissioner Sue Fulton  and Republican State Party Chairman Doug Steinhardt showed up to deride the Democrats’ priorities – but the GOP finally didn’t have the numbers.

“The assembly was afraid to do this in regular session,” Singer said. “I’m a little disappointed.”


State Senator Nick Sacco (D-32) didn’t care.

“I’ve been in support of this bill,” the Hudson senator said. “We had a governor who wouldn’t sign it. So going through this process would have been spinning our wheels.”

Senator Mike Testa (R-1), the newst occupant of the committee, defeated his incumbent opponent last month with a campaign in part defined by his opposition to driver’s licenses for the state’s illegal residents.

He kept his promise and voted no.

After the hearing, he issued a formal statement.

“Like so many of our families, my grandparents on my mother’s side and my great grandparents on my

Testa and Vitale
Two Sides to Every Story: Testa, left, and Vitale.

father’s side immigrated to the United States the right and legal way,” said Testa. “We should not reward those who have no respect for our country’s laws with the privilege of a driver’s license. Democrats pushing this legislation are laying out the welcome mat for illegal immigrants rather than prioritizing the needs of their actual constituents.”

The senate’s newest member criticized the bill, S-3229, which would create a second tier of driver’s licenses for those who are unable to prove lawful presence in the United States.

“While this is only my second week at the State House, I’m witnessing firsthand how out of touch Trenton democrats are with the top concern of many New Jerseyans – affordability,” Testa said. “We must quit wasting State time and money on Governor Murphy’s partisan agenda and start taking action to lower taxes and make the Garden State a more affordable place to live, raise a family, and retire.”

From the bill, a companion of which passed earlier this week out of the Assembly Judiciary Committee:

LG Sheila Oliver with longtime slate mate state Senator Nia Gill (D-34).

This bill 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, 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.

In addition to requiring an applicant to submit satisfactory proof of identity and age, an applicant for a REAL ID license or identification card is required to submit two documents providing satisfactory proof of New Jersey residency, proof of the applicant’s social security number or verification of ineligibility for a social security number in accordance with the “REAL ID Act of 2005,” and proof that the applicant’s presence in the United States is authorized under federal law.

The bill requires a standard license or identification card to indicate that the license or identification card is not to be accepted as identification for an official federal purpose and is to bear a unique design or color to indicate that the license or identification card is not to be accepted for an official federal purpose.  An official federal purpose includes but is not limited to accessing federal facilities, boarding federally regulated commercial aircraft, and entering nuclear power plants.


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