Thursday, March 01, 2007

Driving Without A License? Watch Out!

Sue Ella Deadwyler's WMVV Radio Commentary, 2/7/07

Getting a bill passed is quite an accomplishment these days. For many years bills that passed their first committee during the first half of the session went straight to the House or Senate floor for a vote. But, bills that didn't move that fast had another hurdle to jump. They were sent to the Rules Committee that decided whether it got a vote on the floor. In fact, Rules committees are so powerful they're sometimes called "gate keepers".
The Rules Committee gate-keeper role is much like the gate of a community that denies entry to unauthorized traffic. The gate-keeper Rules Committee stops bills and, tremendously, cuts the work load of the House and Senate. Since the Rules Committee kicks in after the sixth day of the session, legislators must work their bills though their first committee assignment and, subsequently, through the Rules Committee to get them to the floor for a vote. That double process, actually, takes place twice - once in the Senate and once in the House. It's not any easier for lobbyists. They follow the same process. Whether they want a bill passed or defeated, they must work both committees in the House and both in the Senate.
Tomorrow will be day 15 of the 40-day session. That means the bill I'm discussing today has already made it through the Senate Judiciary Committee, as well as the Senate Rules Committee. It's S.B. 15. Senator Wiles introduced it on January 9. It passed the Senate on January 26 and went to the House Judiciary Committee three days later.
S.B. 15 is a very important part of an on-going effort to stop illegal aliens and others from driving without a license. First, it puts teeth into current law by requiring violators to be jailed or fined for driving on Georgia roads without a license. Depending on the circumstances and frequency of the offense, violators would get two days in jail for a misdemeanor or one to five years and a fine of $2,500 to $5,000 for felonies or repeated violations.
A particularly important section of this bill requires law enforcement to make an effort to determine that nationality of the person confined or convicted of driving without a license. The bill does not indicate what happens to illegal aliens caught driving without a license, but legislators and law enforcement are getting the picture. The law must be enforced.
Back on April 14,2003 then-Senator Sam Zamarippa amended H.B. 191 to give driver's licenses to illegal aliens and convinced a majority of senators to vote his way on that bill. But then-Senator Casey Cagle immediately moved for reconsideration. After the senators had time to think about their vote, they defeated that bill. Since we seem to be hanging onto the law by a very thin thread, S.B. 15 needs to pass to reinforce our driver's license law so nobody will slip through the cracks. Call Representative Willard at 404-656-5125 and ask him to please pass S.B. 15 out of his committee. Georgia roads are dangerous enough already. We don't need drivers that either can't get a license because they can't drive or don't get a license because they're here illegally.

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