Statewide Coalition Claims Victory after Bipartisan Bill Passes House and Senate to Improve SB251 Licenses

April 18, 2018

Health & community organizations say the bill will make the state a safer place for all Coloradans

April 18, 2018 – Denver, CO – The Colorado House of Representatives passed the Eligibility Colorado Road and Community Safety Act (SB-18-108) in a vote of 38-24, clearing the road for the bill to park on Governor John Hickenlooper’s desk for signage and paving the way for a healthier and safer Colorado for all residents and business owners. SB18-108 will allow people to renew their SB251 driver license online or by mail and permit those who have valid social security numbers to access the program.

The agricultural community advocated for this legislation to pass the state legislature to ensure their workers had access to licenses for the safety of farms and rural communities. The need for a reliable and consistent workforce is a primary concern for our state’s business and agricultural leaders. Increasing access to driver licenses for every worker in Colorado, regardless of immigration status, will greatly benefit our local economies across the state. With a diverse group of farmers, ranchers, and entrepreneurs advocating for the bill’s passage, SB-108 cleared the Senate and House with bipartisan support.

“As a business owner who is myself impacted by this bill, many doors will finally be opened to me,” says Isabel Bezanilla, Aurora tire business owner who has been advocating for the passage of SB18-108. She says, “My employees, clients, and I will be able to drive more safely, be able to register our vehicles in our own name, obtain insurance, and renew our driver’s licenses thanks to this bill.”

The bill will also support businesses by ensuring people have more efficient access to renew their licenses by mail and online. Noraly Hernandez from Lamar, Colorado states: “Right now we have to travel as much as 8 hours if you live in the Southeast part of the state to renew our licenses. Having an equitable renewal process will not only allow us to renew online or by mail, but it will help us to avoid missing up to 3 workdays to renew our license because we will not have to travel so far.”

This legislation will also secure for DACA recipients and TPS holders to have continued access driver licenses despite Federal changes and uncertainty. The original SB13-251 Colorado Roads & Community Safety Act previously did not allow applicants with valid social securities numbers to access the program. Laura Peniche, Coloradan Dreamer, says, “Having a license allows us to live a more full and dignified life, one that I’m sure God intended us to have.”

Peniche says having a driver’s license helps her provide a better life for her children. She recalls, “We couldn’t go out too much, we had to rely on people to give us rides to get around, which caused us to live in isolation and we couldn’t be part of a community. Now that I have a license, we are able to drive to school without fear; we can also be part of the community now and participate in things that we couldn’t before.”

Colorado will also see significant health benefits as a result of this bill–both in terms of the health of our immigrant communities and overall public health. “This vote to improve access to driver’s licenses for immigrants without documentation is a major step toward making Colorado healthier. Driver’s licenses make it possible for Coloradans to get to the hospital or see their doctor, secure basic life necessities such as healthy food, safe housing, and job opportunities, and fully take part in the life of their community. All those things should be accessible to everyone, regardless of immigration status,” said Joe Sammen, Executive Director of Center for Health Progress. “By signing this bill into law, Gov. Hickenlooper can make all Coloradans safer on the road and enhance immigrant families’ ability to live healthy and productive lives.”

###

The I Drive Colorado Campaign includes over 40 organizations dedicated to making our communities and roads safer and improving access for undocumented Coloradans to licenses and Identification documents.