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    Assembly Passes Bill Allowing Specially-Marked Drivers Licenses For Illegal Immigrants; Oropeza Votes Yes; Karnette Abstains; Lowenthal Supported In Senate; Bill Now Goes To Gov. Schwarzenegger

    (Sept. 8, 2005) -- Following an acrimonious debate that ran from shortly after 9:00 p.m. until about 11:40 p.m. last night (Sept. 7), the CA Assembly narrowly voted to approve a bill that would allow illegal immigrants receive CA drivers licenses.and ID cards with different markings and special verbiage to distinguish them from "regular" licenses and IDs...which supporters said complies with the recently-passed federal "Real I.D. Act."

    SB 60 by State Senator Gil Cedillo (D., Santa Ana) differed from his previous drivers license legislation (passed in 2003, repealed after Gov. Davis was recalled) to include the requirement that licenses for illegal immigrants carry a special design or color. Senator Cedillo and supporters said this would make such licenses compliant even with the recently-passed federal "Real ID Act."

    A legislative analysis says the bill requires CA "to comply with the federal the Real ID Act of 2005...which established standards and procedures for the issuance of driver's licenses and identification cards, and authorized the states to issue driver's licenses and identification cards to undocumented immigrants, providing that the license or identification card clearly states that it may not be used for any other official purpose, and uses an unique design or color."

    The new version of the bill didn't quell the opposition. Opponents charged that giving illegal immigrants drivers license would encourage illegal immigration imposing additional costs on CA taxpayers.

    Supporters argued that the bill is a safety measure...and said the bill is supported by LAPD Police Chief Bill Bratton.

    The Assembly floor vote on SB 60 was announced as 42-34...although the clerk's final tally indicates 41-34. A press aide in Sen. Cedillo's office told that the Democrats' Majority Leader, L.A.-Glendale area Assemblyman, Dario Frommer rescinded his "yes" vote [a procedure allowed under the Assembly's rules].

    LB area Assemblywoman Jenny Oropeza voted "yes." LB Assemblywoman Betty Karnette abstained she has on previous versions of the drivers license bill. (In Nov. 2004, her Republican opponent raised her previous abstentions as an election issue.).

    When Assembly opponents of the bill sought to discuss costs to CA taxpayers of illegal immigration, the Assembly presiding chair ruled the discussion out of order as unrelated to the legislation. The ruling so infuriated opponents of the bill that they forced a vote on the chair's ruling....producing a 42-29 vote to uphold the chair's ruling (Oropeza voting to uphold, Karnette: abstaining).

    In June, SB 60 cleared the CA Senate on a 22-16 vote (State Senator Alan Lowenthal (D., LB-SP-PV) voting "yes.") The bill returned to the Senate briefly on Sept. 8 for concurrence in Assembly amendments and passed on a 21-15 vote.

    With today's final Senate approval and last night's Assembly vote, the drivers license bill goes to Gov. Schwarzenegger.

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