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Mon April 29, 2013
Driver's Licenses for Undocumented Immigrants Stalls
Many undocumented immigrants in Connecticut want to apply for a state driver's license.
As WNPR's Lucy Nalpathanchil reports, legislation to allow them to do so stalled in a legislative committee. Now proponents are pushing lawmakers to find another way to get the legislation before the full General Assembly.
Armando Morales is an East Haven resident who is still paying the bills resulting from a serious accident last year when a car hit his family's van. While his family was on the way to the emergency room, the driver who hit them drove off. Morales says he's telling his story because the situation could have happened to anyone. "I mean this is not a Latino issue. I think it benefits everyone in Connecticut." Supporters of a bill to change the licensing law say research shows it would save registered drivers in the state $20 million dollars from a decrease in insurance premiums. State coffers would also benefit from an additional $2 million in registration and license fees. The main proponent of the bill is Congregations Organized for a New Connecticut or CONECT, made up of faith groups from New Haven and Fairfield counties. They're not the only supporters, eight city mayors also are backing the bill including Mayor Tim O'Brien from New Britain. "I support it because it's about common sense. We, as Mayors have to have policies that work for everybody. It doesn't make any sense that has a system of laws that encourage people to flee the scene of an auto accident. It doesn't make any sense to not have our police officers have the tools to be able to do their jobs." The bills failed to come up for a vote in the legislature's Transportation committee.House Speaker Brendan Sharkey says that was due to a procedural issue and not that legislators didn't want to vote on it. Sharkey says there's wide support in both chambers and now it's up to lawmakers to find another bill that can be amended to include the licensing language. They have a little more than one month to make it happen before the legislative session ends.