Baker not satisfied with immigrant license bill

Says he wished Jones amendment on voting had been approved

GOV. CHARLIE BAKER wouldn’t say on Thursday whether he intends to veto an immigrant license bill if it reaches his desk, but he appeared to dispute a lead sponsor’s contention that the bill as passed by the House satisfies the governor’s concerns about the legislation.

The House on Wednesday voted 120-36 — a veto-proof margin — in favor of legislation allowing undocumented residents of Massachusetts to obtain driver’s licenses if they have at least two supplemental documents proving their identity, birth date, and Massachusetts residency.

Rep. William Straus of Mattapoisett, the House chair of the Legislature’s Transportation Committee, said the bill has nothing to do with immigration. He said the bill is a driver safety measure because it requires undocumented drivers to take safety courses and obtain insurance to drive legally.

Straus said the bill’s identification requirements meet the “Baker standard” for ensuring that drivers applying for the licenses are who they say they are.

Addressing reporters after an event in Somerset, Baker didn’t address the Baker standard specifically but said he wished the House had passed an amendment offered by Rep. Brad Jones of North Reading that would have required the Registry of Motor Vehicles to provide information on any driver to any city or town clerk “seeking to verify the identity and eligibility of any individual using a Massachusetts license to vote or to register to vote.”

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Bruce Mohl

Editor, CommonWealth

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

Baker said he wished Jones’s amendment had passed. “That would have been a big statement by the Legislature that this really is about driving and not anything else,” he said.

The House-passed measure now goes to the Senate.