By Bob Katzen

The House 31-125, rejected an amendment to a section of the bill that prohibits the Registry of Motor Vehicles from disclosing personally identifying information and communications regarding any applicant for a Massachusetts driver’s license or learner’s permit, “including failure to provide proof of lawful presence in the United States,” unless specifically authorized to do so under regulations that are to be drafted by the attorney general’s office.

The amendment would make this information automatically available to municipal clerks attempting to verify the identity and eligibility of someone using a Massachusetts license to vote or to register to vote.

“I think it’s perfectly reasonable for these regulations to include, at a minimum, language that will ensure the sharing of information with municipal clerks seeking to verify a voter’s identity and eligibility, and with law enforcement officials conducting an investigation,” said amendment sponsor Rep. Brad Jones (R-North Reading.)

Rep. Patricia Farley-Bouvier (D-Pittsfield) said she opposed the amendment due to the violation of privacy that would occur had it been adopted not just for immigrants without legal status who would newly be applying for standard driver’s licenses, but also for all license applicants. “[The bill] was carefully drafted to protect the privacy of all who are applying for licenses in Massachusetts and ensure immigrants without status would trust that their legal status would not be disclosed beyond the standards for all current license holders i.e. for law enforcement investigations or insurance purposes,” said Bouvier.

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