Lawmakers reach deal on immigrant driver’s licenses
The Associated Press
DENVER — Colorado lawmakers reached a deal Wednesday on a standoff over how to pay for a program that lets immigrants get driver’s licenses regardless of their legal status, an initiative that Democrats passed without Republican support two years ago.
The deal approved unanimously by the six-member Joint Budget Committee allows enough funding for the program to operate three offices where immigrants can get licenses, driving permits and identification cards. State officials had only one such office available to immigrants since February because of the legislative stalemate.
At issue was a request from the state Department of Revenue to collect and spend $166,000 in fees from immigrant applicants to keep up with high demand for the program and potentially expand it.
After weeks of negotiations, legislative budget writers readjusted the request to $66,000. That will allow the revenue department to serve immigrant applicants at three motor vehicle offices in the state, instead of having just one location in Denver. The two other locations have not been determined.
When the program started in August, there were five offices around the state, but with temporary staff. Democrats and the department wanted the $166,000 to make staff at those locations permanent and open more offices if enough fees came in.
Democrats and immigrant advocates feared that with only one location open some applicants would have to wait years for their turn to get a license.
Rep. Millie Hamner, one of the Joint Budget Committee members who negotiated the agreement, said both sides had to budge. “It’s one of those things where nobody is ever fully happy,” she said.
The agreement still needs to be approved by each chamber — a likely outcome because it’s backed by the Joint Budget Committee and legislative leaders.
Democrats passed the program in 2013 when they controlled both chambers of the statehouse. Every Republican lawmaker opposed the program then.
Democrats kept control of the House after November’s elections, and Republicans took over the Senate for the first time in 10 years. That gave them power over an initiative that they argued legitimized illegal immigration. That made a potential expansion an unpalatable proposition for the party.
“We still have concerns over the overall program. But we were able to come to some compromise here on this one, and we’re happy with it,” Republican Sen. Kevin Grantham said.
Supporters of the program argue it improves public safety because immigrants will know the rules of the road and can be properly identified during accidents. Police chiefs and sheriffs wrote lawmakers last month in support of the licenses.
Sen. Jessie Ulibarri, a Democrat who sponsored the bill to implement the program, applauded the Joint Budget Committee’s deal. “I see this as a first step to demonstrate that this is a vital public safety program,” he said.
Lawmakers get Colorado economic report ahead of budget votes
DENVER — Colorado lawmakers will be presented with a quarterly report on how much tax dollars the state is collecting as they prepare to debate and vote on the annual budget in the coming weeks.
The revenue forecast lawmakers receive Wednesday morning will inform them on what bills they can fund and how much surplus money they have to return to residents under the state’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights. It calls for refunds when state revenue exceeds the combined rate of inflation and population growth.
Refunds are looming for the first time in 10 years now that the state economy is improving.
Woman hit, killed by car in Fountain parking lot ID’d
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Authorities have released the name of a 66-year-old woman who was hit and killed by a car in a Wal-Mart parking lot in Fountain.
The Colorado Springs Gazette reports officers were called to the parking lot Monday morning and found Jenny M. Carrillo injured in a crosswalk in front of the store. She died at a hospital.
Investigators say the driver, 27-year-old Rebecca J. Champigny, was trying to pass another car that had stopped for pedestrians when she hit Carrillo. Champigny, who also hit two other cars, was arrested on charges including vehicular homicide and motor vehicle theft.
Investigators say she stole the vehicle from her parents.
Booking documents do not indicate if she has hired an attorney.
—The Associated Press
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