Oregon’s House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a bill Tuesday that seeks to eliminate a state policy where residents could have their driver’s licenses suspended for failing to pay a traffic ticket, in some cases for up to 20 years if they didn’t pay up.
HB 4065 passed the House with bipartisan support 42-16.
If approved, Oregon would join California, Montana, Mississippi and Idaho in passing similar legislation.
The Oregon Law Center, a nonprofit legal rights group, estimates that 334,338 such suspensions have been issued in the past decade.
Rep. Chris Gorsek, D-Troutdale, said losing driving privileges can be a serious detriment to Oregonians’ way of life and means to make a living. “Suspending a license deprives people of reliable, lawful transportation necessary to get to and from work, or to their critical obligations,” Gorsek said in a statement. “A system that relies on debt-based driver license suspensions creates a vicious cycle of increasing debt and wastes state resources. Public safety should not be tied to debt collection, and this bill is an important move to create a public safety system where everyone can thrive.”
Proponents pushed for the bill because they argued the long-held state practice also disproportionally affects people of color and low-income residents.
The issue brought together politicians from both sides of the aisle, who argued that the punitive measures under existing state practice were unfair.
Source – Oregon Live
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