Bill seeking to fix state’s immigrant driver’s license program passes House |

Bill seeking to fix state’s immigrant driver’s license program passes House

Jesse Paul and Joey Bunch
The Denver Post

A bill seeking fixes for Colorado’s embattled program that provides driver’s licenses to people living in the country illegally narrowly passed the House on Monday.

House Bill 1274 would expand the existing immigrant licensing program from three offices to nine and hire 20 more employees to help resolve the backlog of applicants.

It was approved 34-31 with Republicans making up the dissent.

Rep. Jonathan Singer, a Democrat from Longmont who sponsored the bill, says the improvement would be paid for by those who purchase the licenses, which is estimated to bring in more than $1.1 million in the next fiscal year.

Proponents said the bill would result in more insured drivers while reducing the chance that undocumented drivers would flee a collision.

The legislation faces almost certain doom in the Republican-controlled Senate, however, as GOP lawmakers have strongly pushed back against efforts to expand and improve upon the program.

A partisan budget fight in 2015 cut the license program’s original five locations to just one until lawmakers struck a deal to operate offices in Denver, Grand Junction and Colorado Springs.

An estimated 150,000 residents in Colorado live in the country illegally. Applicants can face years-long waits for an appointment to get a license.

Reports of scams targeting those desperate for a appointment to get the licenses are drawing increased attention. Another bill to make it misdemeanor for people to sell government services without authorization is up for debate Monday in the Senate.

That legislation was prompted by a shady practice called appointment selling, where people sign up for an appointment for an immigrant driver’s license and later sell the slot or simply sell a slot they don’t have.

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