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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

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