Groups seek to add immigrant driver’s license authorization to police bill
As the House gathers testimony on a policing reform bill passed earlier this week by the Senate, S.2820, some immigrant and worker groups are calling for the legislation to add language to grant driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants. Service Employees International Union 32BJ, Brazilian Workers Center, and Pioneer Valley Workers Center plan to rally today in front of the State House in support of the driver’s license measure.
Springfield Rep. Carlos González, chair of the Black and Latino Legislative Caucus, told CommonWealth on Friday morning that “this is one of many things we’d like to see as a priority.”
The driver’s license bill has stalled for years in the Legislature, and Gov. Charlie Baker has said he opposes it, so it’s not clear that lawmakers will be looking to add another contentious provision to a bill already generating plenty of heat on Beacon Hill.
Several groups have submitted written testimony on the matter to the House, which they shared with CommonWealth.
Members of the Pioneer Valley Workers Center and immigrant group Movimiento Cosecha plan an encampment in front of the State House and hunger strike to press the issue.
“We need driver’s licenses now, during this COVID-19 pandemic,” said Claudia Rosales, a Western Massachusetts farmworker told Commonwealth. “We rely on ride-sharing daily with a lot of people in one car because we don’t have access to driver’s licenses. We don’t want to expose ourselves or risk our families.”
The driver’s license measure was filed this session as a stand-alone bill, cosponsored by Democratic Reps. Christine Barber of Somerville and Tricia Farley-Bouvier of Pittsfield and Sen. Brendan Crighton, a Democrat from Lynn. In February, the bill made it out of the Transportation Committee.
Immigrant leaders for Movimiento Cosecha were detained by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement this winter in incidents the organization has said would have been prevented if undocumented immigrants had access to driver’s licenses.
Estimates from the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center put the number of undocumented immigrants that reside in Massachusetts at 185,000, though the number could be far higher. Advocates say that 41,000 to 78,000 drivers could obtain licenses within the first three years of a change in state law to permit that. About 16,000 undocumented immigrants are estimated to be currently driving without licenses, including to health care and grocery store jobs deemed essential during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Senate passed a far-reaching police reform bill on Tuesday that would ban chokeholds, limit the use of tear gas, license all law enforcement officers, and train them in the history of racism.
Part of the crafting of the legislation came from the Black and Latino Legislative Caucus’ 10-point plan to address racial justice and law enforcement violence on a state, local, and federal level, unveiled back in early June.
Law enforcement groups have spoken out against the bill, voicing particular concern about a provision that would limit their immunity from civil lawsuits. They also complained that the bill was not subject to a public hearing.
The Legislature approved a $1.1 billion supplemental spending bill to deal with coronavirus costs that is packed with local earmarks.
Gov. Charlie Baker says he’s “very concerned” about a Trump administration move to strip control over coronavirus data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Opinion: Congressional candidate Dave Cavell says we must fight climate change and coronavirus at the same time…. UMass Boston professors Jeffrey Melnick and Steve Striffler decry systemic racism on their campus — and beyond.
FROM AROUND THE WEB
A bill headed to Gov. Charlie Baker’s desk would let restaurants serve cocktails to-go. (Eagle-Tribune)
Globe columnist Shirley Leung says Baker must pick a person of color to fill the Supreme Judicial Court slot that will open up with the impending retirement of Justice Barbara Lenk.
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and City Councilor Michelle Wu, a potential 2021 challenger, traded charges over a city fund raising money for nonprofits providing coronavirus relief aid. (Boston Herald)
New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell proposes deep cuts to the city’s budget and services, including closing the downtown police station to help the city withstand the economic uncertainty brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. (Standard-Times)
Leading scientists are calling for testing of a coronavirus vaccine through “human challenge” trials that would attempt to directly infect individuals after they are vaccinated. (Boston Globe)
People with hearing loss are struggling with the requirement to wear masks, since they can no longer read other people’s lips or facial expressions. (Telegram & Gazette)
Twenty-nine percent of nursing facilities in Massachusetts refused to take patients in 2018 who had a history of drug use and needed post-hospital care. (WBUR)
The country set a new record with 75,600 additional cases of coronavirus reported yesterday. (New York Times)
The Washington Post reports that more than a dozen women allege they were subject to sexual harassment while working for the Washington Redskins football team.
The US House Ethics Committee clears US Rep. Lori Trahan of any wrongdoing related to her financial disclosures in advance of the 2018 election. Questions had been raised about whether her husband improperly contributed to her campaign, when Trahan said she herself made the loans. (The Salem News)
The Daily Hampshire Gazette takes a look at fundraising numbers in the primary fight between US Rep. Richard Neal and Mayor Alex Morse.
State GOP chairman Jim Lyons celebrates the Supreme Judicial Court decision putting Republican congressional hopeful Helen Brady on the ballot in a Boston Herald op-ed in which Marlon Brando, bell bottoms, and the TV show “Laverne and Shirley” all get a mention.
A federal measure that gives unemployed workers an extra $600 a week is set to expire July 31 unless Congress acts. (Gloucester Daily Times)
Wedding venues develop their own reopening proposal, saying Gov. Charlie Baker’s guidelines are unworkable. (The Salem News)
The state is ordering Brooks Brothers, which just went bankrupt and closed its Haverhill factory, to repay $2.1 million in tax credits that the company got in exchange for a promise to create and retain jobs. (Eagle-Tribune)
The Berkshire Eagle looks at what it takes to run a farm during a pandemic.
Boston school superintendent Brenda Cassellius is facing an open revolt from the district’s high school principals, who are not happy with a reorganization plan she is pursuing. (Boston Globe)
Two summer school teachers who’ve been back teaching at North Quincy High for less than a month have contracted COVID-19. (Patriot Ledger)
State Rep. Lindsay Sabadosa makes the argument for treating childcare like an essential service. (Daily Hampshire Gazette)
Native American groups are supporting a bill that would ban the use of Indian mascots at schools and change the state seal, which depicts a Native American with a colonist’s arm holding a sword over his head. (Associated Press). WGBH has more from the activists.
Meanwhile, an effort is ongoing to get the town of Turners Falls to change its name, since it was named after a man who led a massacre of Native Americans. (MassLive)
Swansea Water District Board of Commissioners chairman James Hall is proposing a plan to drill a well by the Palmer River as a response to poor water quality and quantity in the town. (Herald News)
After the questionable arrest of a Lynn man — for drinking beer on his own front porch — an alleged beating at the police station leads to a police officer’s resignation. (Boston Globe)
Attorney General Maura Healey sues online vape seller Puff Bar for illegally selling flavored tobacco products in Massachusetts. (MassLive)
Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins spoke about racial justice and police reform via Zoom video conferencing during a Falmouth Democratic Town Committee meeting. (Cape Cod Times)
Notwithstanding White House denials, the Los Angeles Times reports that President Trump authorized and encouraged trade advisor Peter Navarro to write a scathing op-ed ripping Dr. Anthony Fauci. USA Today, which published the op-ed, now says it did not meet the paper’s “fact-checking standards.” (Washington Post)
A new study from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism finds that newsroom leadership in the US and other countries is very white. (Nieman Lab)PASSINGS
Manchester Town Clerk Christina St. Pierre dies at age 35 after a brief illness. (The Salem News)