New ID Standards Recognize Passports As Legit

A bill that would ease some of the headaches that resulted in Colorado’s stringent identification rules – including U.S. passports not being recognized as legitimate IDs by some state agencies – received Senate approval today on second reading. House Bill 1313 would recognize that valid passports can be used to obtain a driver’s license or identification card in Colorado.

The bill comes after Colorado last year adopted what has been regarded as the toughest ID standards in the country amid a package of laws targeting undocumented workers.

The new rules, however, resulted in numerous horror stories from legal citizens who said they were unable to obtain proper identification, creating undue burdens on the working poor and seniors, among others. Even Sen. Andy McElhany’s 15-year old daughter became an unintended victim, he said, when her passport was rejected by the Division of Motor Vehicles when she tried to get her learner’s permit.Bill sponsor Sen. Paula Sandoval described it as one that “would make life easier.”

“We all have concerns about the issuance of IDs,” said Sandoval, a Democrat from Denver. However, in the legislature’s zeal to ensure that undocumented people and others who do not legally qualify for state-issued identification,  “we have made it difficult for our own citizens to get IDs,” she said.

While the bill was being discussed in committee, Sandoval said, “countless stories” emerged from U.S. citizens who had been denied identification. One came from an attorney who had attempted, unsuccessfully, to obtain an ID with a driver’s license from another state and also her birth certificate.

“She’s an attorney who is allowed to practice in front of the Supreme Court but she can’t get a driver’s license in Colorado,” Sandoval said.

If the bill passes on third reading in the Senate, it will head to the governor’s office. It passed the House of Representatives on a 49-16 vote on March 5. During the session, opposing Republicans have opined the bill signals a “rollback” on immigration reform.

Under HB 1313, the following documents, or document combinations, would be accepted for a driver’s license or Colorado ID card:

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