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Bill that would end state ban on immigrant driver's licenses gains clout

Bill that would end state ban on immigrant driver's licenses gains clout

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LINCOLN — Three of the state’s leading business groups have thrown their clout behind the effort to provide Nebraska driver's licenses to young immigrants brought to the country illegally as children.

Currently, Nebraska is the only state that denies licenses to those permitted to remain in the United States under President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program.

On Monday, the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce, the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce announced that they have decided to support a bill that would end the state’s ban.

“It is crucial that Nebraska is known as a welcoming and open place to do business.” said Clark Lauritzen, chairman of the Omaha chamber. “Legislative Bill 623 provides a common sense solution and another tool to assist our small businesses in filling their existing talent needs.”

The chambers join the Nebraska Cattlemen and the Nebraska Restaurant Association as business groups that already support LB 623. Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert announced her endorsement two weeks ago.

The business groups' support is another illustration that ending Nebraska’s ban is a “pro-business” step that is gaining more and more backers, said State Sen. Jeremy Nordquist of Omaha, who introduced the bill.

“Support keeps building. Momentum is clearly on our side,” Nordquist said.

The bill, which has been prioritized by Omaha Sen. John McCollister, now has 28 co-sponsors, which is three more than needed to pass a bill.

Business groups have said that with Nebraska’s low unemployment rate, there is a shortage of quality, educated workers, a shortage that could be addressed by DACA participants, who must be in college or have graduated from a Nebraska high school.

Gov. Pete Ricketts has said he supports the state’s current ban, which began under former Gov. Dave Heineman. Ricketts has not said if he would veto the bill if passed by the Legislature.

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