SAINT PAUL, Minn. – In a victory for the rights and dignity of tens of thousands of Minnesotans, the Senate passed legislation Tuesday to Restore the Vote for formerly incarcerated people and then passed legislation early Wednesday morning to allow Driver’s Licenses for All Minnesotans regardless of immigration status. The legislation, HF 28 and HF 4, passed by votes of 35-30 and 34-31 respectively.
In response to passage of both bills, members of the Senate People of Color and Indigenous (POCI) Caucus released the following statements:
“The Members of the Senate POCI Caucus are ready to make Minnesota the best place to live, work, and raise a family. Today we voted “YES” on HF 28 and HF 4, to restore the vote to 55,000 disenfranchised Minnesotans, ensuring their right to fully participate in the voting process and to correct inequity by allowing all Minnesotans who want to operate a vehicle to do so legally by obtaining a license and purchasing required insurance. It was a good day in Minnesota, and we will collectively continue to address the disparities that our communities have experienced for too long,” said Senate POCI Caucus Chair Senator Mary Kunesh (DFL-New Brighton).
“Today is an exciting day for our state, reflecting the culmination of years of hard work. Action on these issues is long overdue, and I’m proud of the work we have done today to finally take these steps to restore rights, provide dignity to Minnesotans, and to improve public safety across our state,”said Senator Bobby Joe Champion (DFL-Minneapolis), chief author of Restore the Vote, and co-author of Driver’s Licenses for All.
“The right to dignity and humanity is always urgent, and today we moved with that urgency by passing today’s legislation. It has been my honor to work with a broad coalition of Minnesotans from every corner of the state to get this work done, and I’m proud to have voted yes on these bills,” said Senator Zaynab Mohamed (DFL-Minneapolis), chief author of Driver’s Licenses for All.
“Today was one of my proudest of my time in the legislature. The DFL majority has taken action on two long overdue policies that simply gives all of our Minnesotans the dignity they deserve. Today, we ensured that those who served their time are able to fully participate in society, and that all Minnesotans, including our undocumented community, have the right to navigate around our roads safely and legally,” said Senator Omar Fateh (DFL-Minneapolis).
“The two bills we passed today will directly change the lives of many previously disenfranchised Minnesotans. Today, we get to tell these people that we see you, we hear you, and we are voting for you,” said Senator Clare Oumou Verbeten (DFL-St. Paul).
“These bills will help tens of thousands of Minnesotans to carry out basic functions of living in our state. Formerly incarcerated citizens who have reentered society deserve to regain the right to vote. Undocumented residents who live, work, and raise families among us deserve the opportunity to use our roads legally and safely. I am proud to cast these votes to make Minnesota a more just, welcoming, and safer state,” said Senator Tou Xiong (DFL-Maplewood).
“Tonight, Senate DFLers made large strides to further remove barriers often faced by Minnesotans of color and our immigrant communities. By restoring the right to vote and providing drivers licenses for all, we are ensuring Minnesota remains a safe, welcoming place to live and participate in our democratic institutions,”said Senator Erin Maye Quade (DFL-Apple Valley).
“We are taking a momentous step forward with the passage of these bills today in showing respect for our neighbors, friends, coworkers, and community. My votes in favor of Restore the Vote and Driver’s Licenses for All are for human dignity and rights, and they will make Minnesota a more inclusive and stronger state,” said Senator Alice Mann (DFL-Edina).
“No matter where you live or what you look, every Minnesotan deserves to have their rights protected and to be able to live with dignity. The legislation we passed today is long overdue, and takes an important step forward for making communities across our state safer and stronger. I’m proud to have voted yes for Restore the Vote and Driver’s Licenses for All,” said Senator Foung Hawj (DFL-St. Paul).
“The passage of Restore the Vote and Driver’s Licenses for All are crucial steps in ensuring that all Minnesotans can fully participate in our society and live lives of dignity. I’m proud to have voted yes for these bills to make Minnesota a more welcoming and stronger state,” said Senator Susan Pha (DFL-Brooklyn Park).
The members of the Senate POCI Caucus are Senator Mary Kunesh (Chair), Senator Bobby Joe Champion, Senator Foung Hawj, Senator Alice Mann, Senator Erin Maye Quade, Senator Zaynab Mohamed, Senator Clare Oumou Verbeten, Senator Susan Pha, and Senator Tou Xiong.