Oregon sheriffs organization opposes driver's cards
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Polk County Sheriff Bob Wolfe confirmed Friday he was among those 28 Oregon sheriffs who voted this week against Measure 301.

“I don’t believe that is a good bill,” he said. “If people are here legally, they can prove they have citizenship and should be able to get a driver’s license and not a special one.”

UPDATE at 11:30 a.m.

Marion County Sheriff Jason Myers has said that, due to strong opinions on both sides of the issue, he declined to take a stance on the subject of Measure 301.

"The issuance of driver’s cards is a complex topic, with strong feelings on either side of the issue,” he said in the statement, made Friday. “I've heard from a number of constituents both for and against the matter, and both sides make very compelling reasons for their beliefs.

“While I respect both sides of this issue, I have decided not to take a stance and instead allow the Oregon voters to decide whether or not this provision should exist,” he added.


A state organization comprised of elected sheriffs voted Thursday to oppose Measure 301, a November ballot measure that would allow the state to issue driver’s cards to residents who cannot prove their identities.

The Sheriffs Of Oregon Political Action Committee (SOO-PAC) represents 36 sheriffs statewide, and 28 of them voted against the measure, which supporters say would allow people to obtain insurance and drive legally, thus making the roads safer for all. The sheriffs’ organization is urging voters to oppose the measure as well.

The bill and ballot measure have been controversial, and have sparked heated immigration-reform debate. The cards were not intended to be driver’s licenses, and would have had limited duration and purpose had they been enacted in January, said the 2013 Legislature, which approved Senate Bill 833 last year. The bill was signed by Gov. John Kitzhaber, and had bipartisan support.

Late last year, however, the organization Oregonians for Immigration Reform turned in more than 60,000 signatures to the Secretary of State’s office and qualified Referendum No. 301 for the ballot, which prevented the law from taking effect this year.

“Offering the privilege to drive to people who are breaking the law makes no sense to those of us who enforce the law,” said Clatsop County Sheriff Tom Bergin, the SOO-PAC spokesman. “It just doesn’t pass the common-sense test.”

The SOO-PAC said in a press release that it requires a “super majority” vote by its membership for the organization to take a position on a measure or support a candidate.

“A small group of sheriffs on a legislative team stayed neutral last year on the senate bill,” Bergin told the Statesman Journal on Thursday. “But it was a bad bill. There should be no special driver’s cards. Period.”