Oregon governor calls for secure driver’s licenses

| 10/15/2007

Gov. Ted Kulongoski wants Oregon to make it more difficult for people to get licenses to drive in the state and elsewhere.

The governor is calling for limiting the issuance of driver’s licenses only to people who can prove they are in the state legally. At the same time, he wants to allow illegal immigrants the ability to have driving privileges.

The licensing of drivers is expected to be a topic for consideration during a special session next February. The Oregon Legislature doesn’t meet in regular session until 2009.

Currently, applicants for an Oregon driver’s license can obtain the document without presenting proof of identity, such as a birth certificate or Social Security card.

Kulongoski said he is sympathetic about the problems the proposed requirements would create for workers “who do not have a legal presence in the state” and their employers, The Associated Press reported.

But the governor said the proposal would bring the state into compliance with new federal ID requirements that states adopt a national standard that includes linking their driver’s licensing records to national databases. Congress approved the Real ID Act in 2005.

The proposed Oregon license for those who provide proof of “legal presence” would be valid at airports, banks and other locations that require identification. Individuals who could not provide proof of their legal presence could use the other license only for driving. It would be stamped “not for identification.”

In addition to helping guard the nation against terrorist attacks, Kulongoski said compliance with the Real ID Act would help curb identity thefts.

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– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor