Lawmakers consider driver license bill

By Ronnie Millar, Executive Director, Irish International Immigrant Center

Once again, this year, Massachusetts lawmakers will take up the Safe Driving Bill (H. 2985). The last time was in June 2014 when the Joint Committee on Transportation voted to send the measure to study thereby dashing hopes for its passage in 2014.

However, this year twice as many legislators support the new Bill compared to 2014. We are mounting a huge campaign to get support from the Irish community in order to get this Bill passed.

New England states, Vermont and Connecticut, as well as Washington, California, New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, Colorado, Illinois, Maryland, Delaware, and Washington D.C require that all resident drivers are trained, licensed and insured. The Massachusetts Registrar of Motor Vehicles also supports the bill, saying it would increase state revenue by over $15 million dollars and would reduce the drain on law enforcement as well as the court system.

Public safety ought to be the paramount importance when considering this Bill. No one would like to be in an accident with an uninsured driver. By removing immigration status as barrier to applying for a license, or a learners permit, the Safe Driving Bill would enable all Massachusetts residents to become trained, licensed and insured. This bill makes complete sense for the greater good and public safety of all Massachusetts residents.

The Bill will greatly benefit thousands of Irish immigrant families in Massachusetts who need to be able to drive their children to school, to doctor appointments and to get to work.

As I talk to legislators, I learn that they are hearing from many immigrant voices, but not so much from the Irish community. They need to know that the Irish community considers this Bill to be a priority. It is very important to have many Irish organizations and individuals in Massachusetts support this Bill and, more importantly, to make that support known to our elected officials.

The Irish International Immigrant Center is a member of the Safe Driving Coalition, a grassroots coalition of community, faith, business, and labor organizations. We contributed to the Bill’s authorship as well as to the strategic planning of the coalition. The IIIC stands shoulder to shoulder with many other immigrant communities to push this Bill forward.

If you, or your business, would like to have your name added to a letter of support from the Irish community, please call Deirdre McCann at 617-542-7654, Ext. 32, or text your name to 617-459-8857, or email Deirdre

The time is now to put this debate in the rear view mirror. Please take a minute to support this Bill and sign this letter.