(The Center Square) – Legislation that survived a former governor’s veto and a November ballot referendum question officially becomes law on July 1.
The Work and Family Mobility Act is linked to House Bill 4805, introduced in the 2021-22 legislative session.
At its core, the act allows Massachusetts residents living in the country without legal permission to obtain a driver’s license or permit, regardless of immigration status.
There are several provisions attached to the new law. For instance, the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles will require applicants to prove their identity and furnish such data as birth date, Social Security status and demonstrate they are state residents.
Those motorists who are living in the country without legal permission who meet the criteria must follow some of the state’s traditional protocols, including passing a learner’s permit exam, vision screening, and road test.
Several lawmakers sponsored HB4805, including Sen. Brendan Crighton, D-Lynn. In a social media post last April, Crighton said several reasons were behind his support for the bill, which could impact the reportedly 185,000 Massachusetts immigrants who live without status in the state.
“No one should fear detention or deportation over essential everyday tasks, such as going to work, school, medical appointments, or grocery shopping,” Crighton said.
HB4805 passed through the House and Senate last spring but was vetoed by then-Gov. Charlie Baker.
“I cannot sign this legislation because it requires the Registry of Motor Vehicles to issue state credentials to people without the ability to verify their identity,” Baker said of his veto, encapsulated in House Bill 4822.
Baker said he believed the legislation had several flaws.
“This bill fails to include any measures to distinguish standard Massachusetts driver’s licenses issued to persons who demonstrate lawful presence from those who do not,” he said.
Ultimately, last June, both chambers of the Legislature overrode Baker’s veto, in a 119-36 vote in the House and a 32-8 in the Senate.
Speaking to the override, House Speaker Ronald Mariano, D-Quincy, said HB 4805 “ensures that everyone on our roads is identifiable, insured, and well versed in the rules of the world.”
The long and winding path toward bringing HB4805 into law included a statewide referendum question on last fall’s ballot.
Voters approved the question with a 53.7% majority.