A bill that would require everyone to take their driver’s license test in English has passed a House committee, despite a parade of opponents urging the committee to reject the idea.
House Transportation Committee chairman, Rep. Charlie Denison (R-Springfield) re-scheduled the public hearing on HB 167, because opponents to the measure couldn’t make it through the blizzard to testify previously.
They made it this time.
Vanessa Crawford with the Missouri Immigrant and Refugee Advocates of St. Louis told committee members the bill will have a huge detrimental effect on people coming to Missouri from other countries.
“They are trying to learn English, trying to be productive, trying to assimilate and we’re just putting up the biggest roadblock that we can,” Crawford testified.
Immigration lawyer Tony Weigel asked committee members to consider those the bill would affect.
“This would really impact the lives of a small percentage of people in this state, but it would impact them very greatly,” according to Weigel.
Opponents to the bill say it would primarily affect those who immigrate, but haven’t learned English yet or, at least, haven’t learned it well enough to pass a driver’s examination. Others say that some immigrants might know basic English, maybe even well enough to pass the exam, but not well enough to truly understand it. Missouri now offers the driver’s exam in 11 languages.
Pat Dougherty with Catholic Charities of St. Louis said some immigrants end up here after fleeing for their lives.
“There’s a lot of things that people don’t plan on in their lives and one of them might be immigrating to a country, because of lots of bad things that have happened in their country,” Dougherty testified. “There’s no reason for us to make a law like this that makes it harder when we don’t have a problem in the first place.”
Despite such testimony, the committee recommends the full House approve the measure on an 8-to-3 vote.