OKLAHOMA CITY – The House Committee on Public Safety has scheduled a legislative study this week on uninsured motorists and on “the workforce development economics of licensing and insuring non-traditional residents.”
The meeting is scheduled for Tuesday (September 15), from 10 a.m. to noon, in State Capitol Room 512-A.
Democratic state Reps. Seneca Scott of Tulsa and Shane Stone of Oklahoma City expressed their appreciation to Committee Chairman Mike Christian, R-Oklahoma City, for conducting an examination of “such an important topic as this: providing protection from uninsured and unlicensed non-traditional resident drivers in Oklahoma.”
A dozen states have legislation that allows “non-traditional residents” access to Driver Authorization Cards, Scott said. He and Stone said their portion of the interim legislative study Tuesday “will focus on what an authorization card is, and will examine the feasibility of driver authorization cards in Oklahoma, coupled with the need for all drivers to be insured.”
A study released last year by the Insurance Research Council estimated that approximately 26 percent of the motorists driving on Oklahoma’s streets and roads in 2012 were uninsured. That ranked Oklahoma #1 nationally in the percentage of drivers who have no liability insurance. In 2012, uninsured drivers were blamed for $2.6 billion in damage in the U.S., a 75 percent increase from the previous decade.
Many of the undocumented aliens in this state drive to work without insurance and/or a driver’s license, Scott said.
“Nevertheless, they do contribute to Oklahoma’s economy.”
If all undocumented immigrants were to be removed from Oklahoma, the state would lose $580.3 million in economic activity, $257.8 million in gross state product, and approximately 4,680 jobs, according to the American Immigration Council.
Undocumented immigrants pay $76.5 million in Oklahoma state and local taxes, the council contends.
The most recent data for Oklahoma, from 2013, indicates this state has a foreign-born population of more than 218,400, “but this number does not include all undocumented non-traditional residents,” Stone said. Unauthorized immigrants reportedly comprise roughly 2.6 percent of the state’s population, or 100,000 people.
Some are driving on Oklahoma streets and highways, unlicensed and uninsured as well as undocumented, Scott observed.
“Recently we lost sportscaster Bob Barry Jr. to one such undocumented driver who had not studied for the Oklahoma written driver’s exam, nor had he taken the required driving portion of the test, and he was not insured,” the staff release on behalf of the two legislators said.
Educating, licensing and insuring non-traditional residents to drive in Oklahoma “is, in our opinion, one of the most important public safety initiatives we should be undertaking,” said Scott, a member of the House Committee on Government Oversight and Accountability, and Stone.