Stateline Story

Last States Look to Bar Licenses for Immigrants

  • February 15, 2011
  • By Daniel C. Vock

IMMIGRANT LICENSES: The last three states to allow unauthorized immigrants to drive legally are all revisiting that policy. A compromise bill in New Mexico that would let unauthorized immigrants get permits — but not licenses — was put on hold, the New Mexican  notes. Governor Susana Martinez, who campaigned on a pledge to stop letting illegal immigrants get drivers licenses, opposed the idea. Chris Gregoire, the governor of Washington State, says she would sign legislation to bar illegal immigrants from getting drivers' licenses; a recent poll found 84 percent of respondents support the change, too. In Utah , a Senate panel advanced a measure to do away with the state's driving permits for unauthorized immigrants, the Deseret News  reports.

CAPITAL IN CONNECTICUT: Rookie Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy is asking legislators to go along with his plan to spend $1 billion over the next two years on transportation work, reports the Connecticut Post . His proposal would include money for dredging the Bridgeport harbor, building a new state parking garage and catching up on bridge and highway repair projects. Malloy's plan would speed up those repairs, because they would be paid for without using federal money — reducing the amount of red tape and delays, the Post notes.

OHIO TRANSIT: Ohio Governor John Kasich made headlines last week for proposing to lease the Ohio Turnpike for an estimated $3 billion, in a deal similar to one struck by Indiana in 2006. But he also upset some Ohioans for announcing that he would be cutting back a $150 million pledge to the state's transit agencies over the next three years to $80 million. The Columbus Dispatch  explains that Kasich's administration says it cannot afford to put up enough money to get federal matching funds; the money Ohio saves will help pay off bonds instead.  

MISSISSIPPI TRANSPORTATION CHIEF OUT: Mississippi Department of Transportation director Butch Brown was forced to quit while he was in the hospital fighting cancer and just months before his scheduled retirement, reports the Clarion Ledger . Brown had been arrested for drunk driving (although the charges were later dropped) and ignited controversy by insulting U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. The three-member board overseeing Brown voted 2-to-1 to fire him if he did not step down on his own.

FORM OR FUNCTION? A report to the governors of Washington and Oregon says the cost of building a beautiful bridge to span the Columbia River is just too high; they will take a plain, but cheap, concrete bridge instead, writes the Portland Tribune . Sam Adams, Portland's mayor, wants a more aesthetically pleasing addition to the city's skyline. But the report's authors note that the functional crossing still gives drivers on the bridge a great view.