The Republicans couldn’t get their act together enough to pass the “sanctuary cities” bill, but they did manage to do this.
A provision in the approved Senate Bill 1, the special session’s must-pass school finance bill, will require people to prove U.S. citizenship or legal residence before they can renew or get a Texas driver’s license.
The original author of the language, Sen. Tommy Williams, R-The Woodlands, defended his provision and said it would not lead to racial profiling.
“Everybody is asked for the same information,” Williams said. “Every person has to do this.”
Currently, DPS rules allow driver’s license officers to ask a person applying for or renewing a license to ask for proof of citizenship or legal status.
Williams said he wrote the driver’s license language to require officers to ask for such information.
Williams said he wants a law on the books, and he noted that a lawsuit has challenged the DPS rule.
Williams pushed for the driver’s license provision during the regular session, but his legislation never cleared the House, where it appeared to be unpopular.
Then in the special session, Williams attached it to the sanctuary cities bill. And again the House never took up the measure with Williams’ addition.
Finally, the driver’s license provision was added again in the special session to the budget bill, which was approved by both chambers on Tuesday.
I wonder how well-publicized this change will be. In particular, I wonder how many people will show up at their local DPS office later this year when this law goes into effect and be turned away because they didn’t have a passport or birth certificate (long form, naturally) with them. If it happens to you, make sure you blame the right people for it, that’s all I can say. For now, at least, DPS still allows for online renewals of one’s driver’s license. You have to pinky-swear that you’re a citizen as part of it, but that’s not the same as showing a document to a person. I don’t know if this will change. Anyway, my license is good till 2015. If yours expires sooner than then, I hope you’ll remember this procedural change. Hair Balls has more.