State legislators override Governor Pete Ricketts, and pave the way for youth brought into the country illegally to apply for Nebraska driver’s licenses.
Nebraska ends its status as the last state to withhold driving privileges from youth given legal status by the federal government.
Sen. Jeremy Nordquist of Omaha sponsors Legislative Bill 623.
“The positive impacts of this bill have been discussed multiple times for multiple hours on General File and Select File,” Nordquist tells colleagues as he moves to override the veto. “Obviously, we know there are thousands of bright, young, educated immigrant youth in our state who are in need of a legal right to drive and that’s what this bill is intended to do.”
The Unicameral voted 34-10 with five senators abstaining to override the governor’s veto, easily meeting the 30-vote threshold for an override.
LB 623 passed on final reading 34-9-6.
The bill will allow youth under the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to apply for Nebraska driver’s license. Nebraska was the last state to withhold such privileges to youth often called DREAMers in reference to the DREAM Act which has failed to clear Congress.
It is estimated there are approximately 2,700 DACA youth in Nebraska.
Gov. Ricketts, in his veto message, stated the language of LB 623 was too broad and would apply to illegal immigrants other than DACA youth, a contention Nordquist denied.
But, Sen. Mike Groene of North Platte agreed that the bill was too broad and not well written.
“The governor is right to veto this,” Groene said during legislative debate on the override motion. “He probably would have not vetoed it if we had clear language; clear and honest language to this bill.”
Many of the youth who would qualify under DACA were brought into this country illegally at a very young age, have attended schools in Nebraska, some even moving on to college.
Sen. Les Seiler of Hastings spoke of a DACA youth who testified during a legislative hearing who was a medical student, soon to become a doctor in Nebraska.
“You mean to tell me we will authorize and license a person to practice medicine in the state of Nebraska, but they can’t drive the car? Are you kidding me? What kind of mentality is that?” Seiler asked.
AUDIO: Legislative debate on override motion on LB 623. [45 min.]