ST. PAUL, Minn. — All Minnesota residents would be allowed to obtain driver’s licenses regardless of their immigration status under a bill that passed the state House on Friday but the measure faces long odds in the Republican-controlled Senate.
The 75-52 vote fell largely along party lines, with the exception of a couple Republicans who crossed over to join the Democratic majority. Hundreds of noisy immigration activists gathered outside the chamber for the 4 ½-hour debate, and a loud cheer went up when the result was announced.
House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler said offering driver’s licenses to Minnesota residents in the country illegally gives them new incentive to learn the rules of the road and carry insurance, though it won’t fix a federal immigration system that both sides in the debate agreed is badly broken.
“But offering a driver’s license will help the immigrants living and working in Minnesota, and all Minnesotans, by making our roads safer, our economy stronger, and our moral dignity greater,” Winkler said.
Several Democratic lawmakers who were refugees or descendants of immigrants delivered emotional stories about their families’ struggles. They appealed to their colleagues to send a message to Minnesota residents who aren’t in the U.S. legally that they matter.
“This is about human dignity. It’s common sense. This will allow people to simply open a bank account. To drive safely on the road to their jobs, to their school,” said Rep. Samantha Vang, of Brooklyn Center, the daughter of Hmong refugees. “Immigrant rights are human rights, and it time we started seeing them as members of our community, as our Minnesotans.”
GOP House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt acknowledged that lawmakers heard a lot of heartfelt stories, and that major employer groups including the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, were allied with Democrats on the bill. So were several top law enforcement officials. But he wasn’t swayed.
“At the end of this day this bill is a choice,” Daudt said. “A choice to grant privileges to those who are choosing to break the laws of this country, and a choice to allow employers to look the other way on federal labor laws. It’s against the law in this country to enter the country without authorization. It’s against the law in this country to remain in this country if you don’t have authorization.”
Rep. Steve Drazowski, R-Mazeppa, was even more vehement.
“This bill is not going to become law,” he said. “It’s simply a platform for Minnesota Democrats to exercise their radical ideology by making Minnesota a de-facto sanctuary state.”
The bill faces strong opposition from the Senate’s GOP majority. So Winkler said House Democrats have also put similar language into a big transportation budget bill to try to force them to negotiate over the issue before the legislative session ends in late May.
Big rig loaded with mail crashes in Little Rock; tractor ends up on guard rail
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The old saying about those who deliver the mail goes something like this: “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”
But Sunday some indecision did.
The Arkansas Department of Transportation posted on its social media site that the driver of a tractor-trailer carrying a load of mail couldn’t decide which ramp to take off Interstate 440 Terminal Interchange with Interstate 30 and ended up striking the guard rail.
The tractor separated from the trailer and wound up hanging partially over the bridge railing.
Officials said one of the tractor’s fuel tanks became dislodged and fell onto Interstate 30 below causing an explosion and fire.
The driver was taken to a hospital, but her condition is unknown.
Traffic was delayed on both I-30 and I-440 which is the main thoroughfare between Little Rock and the Bill and Hillary Clinton Newsal Airport.
Colorado DOT kicks off project to install media cable barriers on I-25
DENVER — The Colorado Department of Transportation kicked off a seven-month project in June that aims to install new median cable barriers along Interstate 25 between Pueblo and Colorado Springs as a safety measure to prevent median crossover crashes.
According to an article in the Journal of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, the Colorado agency noted in a June 14 statement that it is using a “multi-phased approach” based on vehicle crash history and traffic volumes to specifically locate the new cable median barriers – part of its Whole System – Whole Safety initiative that takes a systematic approach to safety that includes driving behaviors, the built environment, and operations.
“Improving the safety of Colorado’s transportation network by reducing the rate and severity of crashes and improving safety conditions for travelers is our main goal,” Shoshana Lew, executive director of the Colorado DOT, said in a statement. “The statewide program’s whole system approach is unique in how it brings together all areas of the driving experience, resulting in improved and enhanced safety for motorists.”
The $3.5 million project – expected to be completed by December – will remove any existing barrier structures and replace it with media cable barrier along with “added offset” from the travel lane and flattened median side slopes.
That will continue to eliminate vehicle cross-over crashes, the agency noted, while additionally reducing nuisance hits as the northbound cable barrier can be removed. The net effect will allow better maintenance access, reduced maintenance costs, better traffic flow, and further enhancing safety, Colorado DOT said.
A 68-page study wrapped up last year by the Center for Transportation Research and Education at Iowa State University determined that cable median barriers “significantly” reduce motor vehicle crash fatalities and injuries, though they do lead to an increase in “property-damage only” crashes, according to the collected data examined by the school’s researchers.
That study found that out of the 6,718 median-related crashes it examined over a nine-year period stretching from 2007 to 2015, cable media barrier safety devices reduced fatalities, incapacitating injuries, and non-incapacitating injuries by 68.7, 36.8, and 23.9 percent, respectively.
Love’s opens new facilities in Michigan, Illinois and Pennsylvania
OKLAHOMA CITY — Love’s Travel Stops is now serving customers in three new locations — Bridgeport Charter Township, Michigan; Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania; and Hampshire, Illinois.
The Bridgeport Charter Township location at 6560 Dixie Highway (near Interstate 75 and Exit 144) adds 80 new jobs to Saginaw County and 87 truck parking spaces.
The Slippery Rock stop off Exit 105 and I-79, brings 40 jobs and 48 truck parking spaces.
The third location in Hampshire at 201 Love’s Crossing (near Interstate 90 and U.S. Highway 20), has 177 truck parking spaces and brings 80 jobs.
In total, Love’s is adding 312 truck parking spaces for professional drivers.
“These three locations place us in the perfect spots to serve more customers,” said Tom Love, executive chairman and founder of Love’s. “All are along major interstates that are popular for trade routes and leisure travel. We’re proud to add truck parking in areas where our customers need it.”
The travel stops are open 24/7 and offer many amenities.
More than 12,000 square feet of space, Hardee’s restaurant, 87 truck parking spaces, 87 car parking spaces, eight diesel bays, Speedco location on-site, four RV parking spaces, eight showers, laundry facilities, bean to cup gourmet coffee, brand-name snacks, Mobile to Go Zone with the latest electronics, CAT scale.
More than 10,000 square feet of space, Arby’s restaurant, 177 truck parking spaces, 53 car parking spaces, nine diesel bays, Speedco location on-site, three RV parking spaces, seven showers, laundry facilities, bean to cup gourmet coffee, brand-name snacks, Mobile to Go Zone with the latest electronics, CAT scale.
Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania
More than 10,000 square feet of space, Subway restaurant, 48 truck parking spaces, 60 car parking spaces, seven diesel bays, Love’s Truck Tire Care center, two RV parking spaces, six showers, laundry facilities, bean to cup gourmet coffee, brand-name snacks, Mobile to Go Zone with the latest electronics, CAT scale.
In honor of the grand opening, Love’s will host ribbon cuttings and donate $2,000 to the Bridgeport Historical Society, Northern Butler County Feed My Sheep Food Cupboard in Slippery Rock and Hampshire High School.