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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Oregon Legislature. This is a venue for political and policy coverage of the state government in Salem and its impact on the people of Oregon.

Oregon Lawmakers Approve Driving Privileges For People Without Legal Presence

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Oregon DMV

People in the country illegally could get a driver license under a bill approved Tuesday by the Oregon House. The vote sends the measure to Governor John Kitzhaber. He plans to sign it during a May Day rally in Salem Wednesday.

Under current Oregon law, you can't get a driver license if you can't prove you're in the country legally. This bill creates licenses that would be good for four years -- not eight years like normal ones.

You also couldn't use one as ID to board a plane or buy a gun.

Supporters like Ramon Ramirez of the Oregon farmworkers’ union known as PCUN say the measure is not so much about immigration...

"This is really about a public safety issue, of getting people that are driving on the roads currently a driver license, insured," Ramirez says. "And I think our message got across loud and clear. So this is a really important day."

Some GOP lawmakers said the bill rewards people who enter the country illegally. Most Republicans voted against the measure.

On the Web:

SB 833: Driver licenses for people in the country illegally - Oregon Legislature 
Oregon's current driver license rules - Oregon DMV