Many members of agricultural workforce are forced to drive 600 miles for one of few appointments available
(Apr. 3) – The House Transportation and Local Government committee approved a bill sponsored by Rep. Rochelle Galindo, D-Greeley, and Rep. Jonathan Singer, D-Longmont, which would expand on SB13-251, a program that provides driver’s licenses to all Colorado residents, regardless of immigration status. There are currently only four appointment offices that grant these driver’s licenses in the state.
“In 2013, the legislature took the right steps towards better making our roads safer and protecting the public,” said Rep. Galindo. “Agriculture is an economic driver and employs many of our friends and families. This program is necessary to the health and wealth of our community and ensures we have more resources available to empower our workers while keeping our roads safe.”
Without transportation, people have more difficulty finding jobs and keeping them, especially in the agricultural sector, where mass transit options are often limited. This is a problem not only for the farm workers but also for their employers.
SB19-139 carries out the full intent of the 2013 law by establishing appointment offices in rural areas to ensure that Colorado farmers have the workforce they need. It will require the Department of Revenue to issue these types of driver’s licenses at 10 or more offices across the state.
“Among other things, this bill will also improve the safety of our roads,” said Rep. Singer. “By providing the proper testing, training and insurance, it will improve the safety of our public and our roads.”
Rep. Singer is a co-prime sponsor of SB18-108 which removed obstacles that have restricted access to a program launched in 2013 to provide driver’s licenses to all Colorado residents, regardless of immigration status. The self-funded program gives all drivers the opportunity to prove that they are qualified to get behind the wheel and allows them to obtain insurance.
SB19-139 will ensure rural communities and agricultural workers can access driver’s licenses in all four corners of the state. It will also help to increase the size of the workforce of local businesses, specifically in the agricultural industry.
The bill passed the House Transportation and Local Government committee with a bipartisan vote of 8-3. It now heads to the House Appropriations committee.