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Transcript of Sen. Comerford’s remarks

Thank you Mr. President.

I ask for unanimous consent to make a brief statement.

I rise to share my support for Amendment 2 which was withdrawn earlier today, as well as to recognize the leadership of my very good friend, the gentleman from Lynn. The Senator from Lynn has fought hard for the provisions of the Work and Family Mobility Act embodied in this amendment which would allow all residents of our Commonwealth, including those without social security numbers like our undocumented immigrant neighbors, to obtain a driver’s license after meeting all of the requirements of licensure.

Thanks also to my western Mass colleague, the Senator from Longmeadow for his careful consideration and his support of the legislation.

My constituents have fought hard for this Amendment, Mr. President, some camping out on the State House steps for days as part of the Driving Families Forward coalition. Their passion, dogged work, and commitment urge me forward.

I want to especially raise up the efforts of the Pioneer Valley Workers Center, The Center for New Americans, faith leaders from the western Massachusetts region, and I want to acknowledge the support this bill has received from my region’s law enforcement officials including the Northwestern District Attorney David Sullivan.

The provisions in this amendment are fully grounded in immigrants rights, Mr. President. That’s true. But they’re also grounded in regional economic development and public safety.

This bill is also a matter of regional equity since workers in my region largely cannot get to their places of work consistently and easily without being able to drive.

And during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic — and I say this from my position as the Senate Chair of Public Health — this bill is a public health imperative.

Many of the very same people who would benefit from this amendment and the associated legislation are frontline workers, members of the essential workforce on whom we’ve all depended these last many months. We need this workforce to remain healthy. And forcing them to continue to cram into public transportation — where it is available — is a recipe for failing this imperative.

So again, thank you to the Senator from Lynn. I am with you on this issue now and going forward. And please let me express my thanks to the Senate President for her strong consideration of this issue and her steadfast commitment to equity.

I look forward to the day when this chamber can debate and vote on this legislation.

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