SB 1729, as reported HERE, is sponsored by Rep. Van Taylor, R-Plano, and he thought that if Cook's amendment was attached to his original bill, Governor Perry would veto it upon arrival on his desk. So, to save his bill, Taylor called a point of order on the amendment, thus killing it. As the article states:
His amendment to SB 1729, a driver’s license bill, would have required that undocumented immigrants get a new permit if they are going to continue to legally drive in Texas. Until a change in the law in 2011, people did not have to prove they were in compliance with federal immigration laws to get a Texas driver’s license. Now, many who had licenses cannot renew them.Let's ponder this for a moment. Why would an elected official fear a veto from Governor Perry on this amendment, which, in fact, amounts to a public safety issue? It is because the governor could face criticism for requiring undocumented immigrants to legally drive in Texas? If a driver does not have a current drivers license or permit, that driver is denied auto insurance. If an uninsured driver hits you or your loved ones in an automobile accident, how does that person seek compensation?
His amendment to SB 1729, a driver’s license bill, would have required that undocumented immigrants get a new permit if they are going to continue to legally drive in Texas. Until a change in the law in 2011, people did not have to prove they were in compliance with federal immigration laws to get a Texas driver’s license. Now, many who had licenses cannot renew them.
Furthermore, with a legal driving permit, drivers in Texas are in the state database and are, therefore, traceable. This is just common sense. It is not a soft on undocumented immigrants issue, it is a public safety issue. A legal driving permit in no way changes a person's legal status in our country or in our state.
Chairman Cook has the support of " the Texas Association of Business, the Texas Restaurant Association, the Greater Houston Partnership and multiple other heavy hitters in the business community". This is smart business practice. “Texans shouldn’t wait for a federal solution that may take years,” Cook, R-Corsicana, said on the House floor.
How about that part of the equation? Texans pride themselves on a spirit of independence from the federal government, right? This amendment allows Texans to move forward and not wait for whatever policy comes out of Washington, D.C. in the form of immigration reform. Much like the issue of undocumented immigrants and state college tuition which provides educated young people to our society though they are here by no course of action of their own, this is just smart public policy for Texas.
Chairman Cook vows to put his amendment on other bills, where appropriate.
“This is all about making sure that drivers drive with licenses or permits and insurance,” Cook said. The same language passed out of State Affairs Committee as a stand-alone bill with bipartisan support. He pointed out that the language that caused the issue in the first place was in the fiscal matters bill in 2011, so lawmakers didn’t vote on it separately at that time.
“You have a whole group of people that have historically driven legally and responsibly with insurance and can no longer renew their driver’s license,” Cook said.
Chairman Cook should be applauded for his courage of conviction. He has written good public policy, which enjoyed bipartisan support in the past, and the amendment deserves a vote.