Colorado thrives with driver’s licenses for all
As our state legislature heads toward the end of the 72nd regular session, I hope that they will prioritize expanding access to driver’s license access for undocumented Coloradoans to improve the safety of all Coloradoans and boost our economy.
While the state legislature passed legislation in 2013 to allow undocumented immigrants to obtain a driver’s license, the legislation’s goal has not been fully realized due to a lack of proper funding. Originally, the legislation provided funding for six DMVs, but now only four DMVs throughout Colorado provide this service. Without a long-term fix, it could end up being just one.
Thankfully, the Senate recently passed SB19-139, which would provide the much-needed additional funding. In order to qualify for a driver’s license, applicants must provide proof of residency for the past two years or demonstrate that they have paid taxes and currently live in Colorado. Additionally, some may not be aware, but the program is entirely cash-funded through the fees that applicants must pay for the licenses.
When all drivers on Colorado roads are licensed and insured, it makes our roads safer. And without the ability to drive legally, undocumented Coloradoans are limited in the size of their economic impact, particularly in rural areas where public transportation is scarce.
Despite this hurdle to more gainful employment, Colorado state immigrant workers contribute over $140 million in state and local taxes and possess over $3.2 billion in spending power. With the bill’s passage, those numbers will go up even more.
I look forward to the substantial economic benefits all Coloradoans will enjoy thanks to this bill and hope that the House of Representatives will follow the Senate’s example by sending the bill to Gov. Polis’ desk. It’s time to make sure all Coloradoans have access to driver’s licenses.
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Richard Compton’s life will be celebrated in an informal gathering on Oct. 23 from 1-3 p.m. at the Pine Creek Cookhouse. All are welcome.