Testimony in favor of House Bill 288

Sometime this afternoon, the Judiciary Committee of the House of Delegates should get a copy of or hear this testimony read:

House Bill 288

Michael Swartz, Salisbury

I write in SUPPORT of House Bill 288, for the following reasons:

  • It is estimated that anywhere between 12 million and 20 million are in this country illegally, whether by crossing one of our borders or overstaying the visas they obtained through legal means. But by obtaining a driver’s license those here illegally acquire a de facto source of “proof” they are supposed to be here. Because of this common usage of a driver’s license as identification, the standard for obtaining a license or identification card should be increased to discourage these lawbreakers from taking advantage of the system.
  • Having proof of citizenship to obtain a driver’s license is also important in maintaining our voter registration system. According to the Maryland State Board of Elections, the identification required to register for voting can be EITHER a Maryland driver’s license, MVA ID card number or the last four digits of an applicant’s Social Security number. While the voter registration application demands the applicant affirm their citizenship under penalty of perjury, we’re talking about a person who’s already broken the law in order to be here in the first place! Otherwise, the Board of Elections cannot ask for proof of citizenship so this has to be done beforehand by the Maryland MVA, as this bill would mandate.
  • While states like Arizona and Oklahoma have become more restrictive toward those who are in this country illegally, Maryland has become more of a magnet for the undocumented. By adding this small barrier, we can discourage a group that is a net loser to the state as far as taxes collected vs. benefits received from staying here. This is particularly important in a time when Maryland already faces a revenue shortfall due to a struggling economy and needs to make sure those programs targeted to the economically disadvantaged assist only those who are legitimately eligible.

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There is one other item I would like to bring up. While it’s not necessarily germane to the passage or failure of House Bill 288, I would like to question Delegate Vallario, the Chair of the Judiciary Committee, regarding the timing of this hearing so late in the session when hundreds of bills introduced afterward received their hearings much sooner. By leaving so little time for the Committee to take up this bill and get it through the legislative process, it seems to me the deck is being stacked against a measure that I consider to be simple, common-sense legislation with bipartisan support that should have become law much sooner. I hope the Committee proves my suspicions wrong and quickly starts House Bill 288 through the process and onto Governor O’Malley’s desk for approval.

Lastly, I appreciate having the opportunity to share my thoughts on this important measure this afternoon.


At least I had my say. It’s actually pretty easy so I may have to do this more often!

Crossposted on monoblogue.

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