Gov. Baker Vetoes Bill To Expand Access To Driver's Licenses

BOSTON (AP) — Gov. Charlie Baker vetoed a bill Friday that would allow immigrants in the country illegally to obtain state driver’s licenses in Massachusetts.

The veto came just a day after the Massachusetts House and Senate gave final approval to the measure, sending it to Baker's desk.

Baker said he could not sign the legislation “because it requires the Registry of Motor Vehicles to issue state credentials to people without the ability to verify their identity.”

“Consequently, a standard Massachusetts driver's license will no longer confirm that a person is who they say they are,” he added in a letter to lawmakers.

Both chambers, dominated by Democratic lawmakers, passed the measure by margins wide enough to override a Baker veto.

Sixteen states and the District of Columbia already have similar laws.

Under the proposal, those in the country illegally could apply for a driver’s license if they can provide the Registry of Motor Vehicles with a foreign passport or consular identification document.

The people would also have to provide one of five additional documents: a driver’s license from another U.S. state or territory; a birth certificate; a foreign national identification card; a foreign driver’s license; or a marriage certificate or divorce decree from any U.S. state or territory.

Supporters say the measure would make driving safer in Massachusetts by requiring immigrants show they can properly operate a car and that they have obtained the needed insurance in the event of an accident.

Baker said the bill also restricts the registry's ability to share citizenship information with entities responsible for ensuring that only citizens register for and vote in elections.

“This bill significantly increases the risk that noncitizens will be registered to vote," he added.

If lawmakers vote to override Baker's veto, the proposal would take effect July 1, 2023.