Annapolis dodges a bullet on immigrant license legislation
Many Marylanders will be upset at the compromise the General Assembly struck on illegal immigrant driver's licenses. People on the right will decry it as amnesty (if temporary) for illegal immigrants. People on the left say the legislature approved a plan that will make Maryland's roads less safe; illegal immigrants will keep driving but without licenses and insurance, they argue. In fact, I'm betting people who voted for this bill -- which grandfathers current illegal immigrant license holders in until 2015 -- will get no end of grief for it.
Even so, I'd say the last-minute passage of the bill was much better for them, politically speaking, than the alternative. If the bill hadn't passed, an impending federal deadline to implement the Real ID act would likely have forced a special session on the issue. And if people are upset about the issue now, imagine a scenario in which the legislature is debating nothing else -- and spending extra taxpayer dollars to do it.
There's plenty legislators have to worry about between now and possible re-election in 2010 -- billion-dollar budget shortfalls, for example. But at least they can cross this one off the list.