A Senate panel passed a bill on Monday that would let illegal immigrants get a Minnesota driver's license, the most recent development in a push at the Capitol to train and ensure more drivers who aren't U.S. citizens.
The Senate Transportation and Public Safety Committee endorsed the bill on a 10-7 vote — with all Democrats in favor and all Republicans opposing the bill — to ease the state's restrictions on driver's licenses. A House committee endorsed a similar bill last week. The Democrats pushing the measure say the change would make Minnesota roads safer: If the state starts to regulate illegal immigrants behind the wheel, they'll have to pass a test and could more easily buy automobile insurance.
But Republicans expressed concern that the change could lead to unintended consequences, such as illegal immigrants using their new state IDs to register to fraudulently vote on Election Day.
"We have to tread very carefully here ... to make sure that we're not opening this up too broadly," said Sen. Eric Pratt, R-Prior Lake.
Sen. Bobby Joe Champion and other Democrats said Champion's bill should be weighed solely as a public safety measure. The House Transportation Policy Committee endorsed the bill on Wednesday, also on party lines.