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Licenses For Undocumented Immigrants Passes In Springfield; Legislature No Closer On Pension Reform

By Chuck Sudo in News on Jan 8, 2013 10:45PM

2013_1_8_license.jpg Gov. Pat Quinn plans on signing legislation passed by the Illinois House Tuesday that would allow undocumented immigrants to obtain driver's licenses. the House voted 65-46 in favor of Senate Bill 857; the Illinois Senate approved it Dec. 4.

Quinn touted the bill, which had the support of Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, as a safety measure in a statement to media.

“More than 250,000 immigrant motorists on our roads today have not passed a driving test, which presents a dangerous risk to other drivers. Illinois roads will be safer if we ensure every driver learns the rules of the road and is trained to drive safely.

“Not only will Senate Bill 957 save lives, it will save Illinois motorists $46 million a year in insurance premiums by making sure every driver is properly insured."

Emanuel also praised the bill's passage.

"I applaud legislators from both sides of the aisle for doing what is right by acting on this critical legislation to make our City and State more welcoming to immigrants, while also making our roads safer by requiring all drivers to be trained, tested and insured."

Several states already allow younger undocumented immigrants to obtain driver's licenses, if they've been deferred action from the federal government. SB 957 is much larger in scope and was fiercely debated in Springfield. Opponents of the bill argued it violated the Constitution by granting "amnesty" to undocumented immigrants. But the safety issue won out. Undocumented immigrants will be required to pass tests, obtain auto insurance and provide proof of residency in order to obtain the three-year temporary licenses.

What the state Legislature couldn't agree on was a deal on pension reform. A shocker, right? They did kick the pension crisis can down the road further, however. A House committee did agree to a last-minute plan proposed by Quinn to set up a commission to study pension reform. Quinn took the unusual step of personally testifying before the House Personnel & Pension Committee Tuesday afternoon to push for the legislation, calling it "something we need to use to move forward in Illinois."

Illinois AFL-CIO president Michael Carrigan called Quinn's proposal "a desperate Hail Mary pass" that unconstitutionally abrogates the Legislature's authority. Seeing as how the Legislature has been unable to agree on pension reform for years, we're oddly okay with that.

If approved, the eight-man panel must have a plan to present to the General Assembly by April 30.