Kulongoski says Legislature should decide license issue
WOODBURN, Ore. (AP) — Gov. Ted Kulongoski says he expects the next Legislature to take on the touchy question of who should get Oregon driver's licenses but that he won't take sides on the issue.
Oregon is one of a handful of states that does not require proof of citizenship or legal residency for a license. It has become a high-profile issue in his re-election campaign against Republican challenger Ron Saxton.
The question regarding the economic impact on Oregon if undocumented immigrants were denied licenses was asked Friday when Kulongoski appeared on a Spanish language radio station, KWBY, in Woodburn.
Kulongoski said he expects the Legislature to bring Oregon into compliance with the federal Real ID Act, which would require proof of citizenship or legal residency before a license can be issued.
"Whether there will be other identification or other driving privileges for those who lack such proof remains up for discussion," he said.
Saxton spokeswoman Angela Wilhelms said "I can't believe the governor thinks that's a proposal that should be considered."
But Senate Majority Leader Kate Brown noted that Saxton has not said he is willing to move against employers who have undocumented workers and that many Oregon companies employ seasonal workers.
"The Legislature is going to have to wrestle with this question of whether we want workers going to work without licenses or insurance," she said.
"My fundamental belief is that to get a driver's license you have to demonstrate competence to drive and that you are insured, period," said Sen. Dave Hunt, D-Milwaulkie.
He said he hopes to include a driving-only option, which the federal law allows for.
If the Legislature does not adopt the new rules, Oregonians could have trouble using their licenses for identification to get into security zones such as airports.
Rep. George Gilmore, R-Medford, chairman of the House Transpiration Committee, said he proposed a driving-only license idea in vain in 2005 and that politically, he thinks it won't pass.