INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana lawmakers pushed ahead for the first time on Tuesday a proposal that would allow immigrants living in the country illegally to obtain state-issued cards giving them permission to drive.
A state Senate committee voted 5-4 to endorse the bill, a step that comes after similar proposals introduced over the past decade have never advanced in the Republican-dominated Legislature.
The bill would establish driver privilege cards, which the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles could issue to immigrants who pass the state’s driving test, have paid Indiana taxes in the past year, submitted to a fingerprint background check and provide proof of auto insurance.
Eighteen states, including California, Illinois, New York and Utah, already have approved similar driving cards in recent years, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Supporters argue such an Indiana program will improve safety on the roads, reduce the number of uninsured drivers and make it easier for police officers to identify drivers during traffic stops.
Republican Sen. Jim Buck of Kokomo voted against the proposal after saying he was bothered by the state giving driving privileges to people who were not following immigration rules.
The bill would have win approval from the full state Senate in the coming weeks to advance to the House for consideration.