Miller: Leaders May Have to Break Driver's License Stalemate
Senate President Mike Miller said today that he doesn't see a compromise position emerging between the House of Delegates and the Senate on the thorny issue of whether Maryland should continue issuing driver's licenses to illegal immigrants.
"Either myself, or the [House] Speaker or the governor will have to step in to get the votes to move forward" before the General Assembly's scheduled adjournment on Monday, Miller (D-Calvert) said.
Here's where things stand on what is shaping up as the session's down-to-the wire issue:
The legislature and Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) agree that Maryland must pass legislation this year requiring drivers to prove they are in the country legally in order to comply with the federal security law known as Real ID. Maryland is one of just four states that offers licenses to undocumented residents.
The House has passed a bill that would allow those drivers to keep their licenses and renew them for a driving permit that would deny them access to federal buildings or commercial planes--but shut the door June 1 to those seeking new licenses. The more conservative Senate legislation would not grandfather in what's estimated at hundreds of thousands of current undocumented drivers,
The governor has said he supports the House bill, which is derided by opponents as a "two-tier" system that has been difficult to implement in other states that have tried it.
But House Speaker Mike Busch (D-Anne Arundel) today objected to that characterization, describing the House bill's provision for current license-holders a "grandfather clause."
A small committee of lawmakers from each chamber is expected to come up with a compromise, which must then be approved by all lawmakers. On such a passionate issue, expect debate into the session's final hours.
April 8, 2009; 1:46 PM ET
Categories: General Assembly , Lisa Rein
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