Tewksbury Representative Dave Robertson provided a number of updates on current legislation.
Joined by 35 other Representatives, Robertson voted against H4416, legislation that develops a pathway for those in Massachusetts without legal immigration status to obtain a drivers license. The legislation, if passed, would allow individuals to apply for a drivers license provided they show two documents proving their identity, birthdate and Massachusetts residency.
“Like the Governor and a number of my colleagues have stated, aside from even the moral arguments, I have concerns about the Registry clerks being able to identify and confirm valid documents from 190 different countries, in numerous languages, and going back years” said Robertson. “To ask the RMV, which has had some recent issues with testing and license revocation issues, to take on this burden of verifying with foreign nations the identity of people is not a wise move in my mind.”
The RMV recently announced that over 2,000 licenses were called into question following the discovery that two road test administrators falsified test results, granting licenses to untested individuals.
In addition to questions on verification, Robertson also raised questions on insurance and accident policies.
“While I don’t disagree that some individuals would come forward to get their license under this scheme, I cannot believe that everyone will – either because they fear registering with the government, are trying to ‘fly under the radar,’ or simply don’t want to pay for insurance. Without increasing the penalties for driving without a license or insurance we have a scheme where we are left with a similar issue as before and a pandora’s box sprung on the RMV” said Robertson. “We all spend enough time dodging uninsured New Hampshire drivers, we don’t need to encourage it here.”
Robertson registered votes in support of amendments that would have increased penalties for uninsured and unlicensed motorists, as well as an amendment that would require the RMV to release information to state or municipal law enforcement if requested in regards to an investigation.
Both amendments were defeated.
Soldiers Home Supported
Following the release of the investigation of the 2020 COVID-19 outbreak at the Holyoke Soldiers Home, where 77 veterans passed from infection and complications, the House of Representatives was joined by Reps Robertson and Tram Nguyen in approving a new system overseeing the state’s care facilities for veterans. Creating an oversight council, ombudsmen positions to advocate for residents, and updating oversight and reporting requirements the bill sets out to provide additional levels of protection for those in care of the Soldier’s Homes of Chelsea and Holyoke.
“When I was on the Committee for Veterans and Federal Affairs I was one of the first to read the follow up report of what occurred, and more importantly what didn’t occur. It was staggering” said Robertson. “The report revealed two major issues, one was the physical layout of the building which exacerbated COVID’s impact but also limited the ability to treat veterans regardless of their ailment or needs. Secondly was the issues with the chain of command, which this bill starts to address.”
The House of Representatives previously passed legislation approving the complete reconstruction of the state’s western soldiers home, aiming to provide a new campus with superior residences and treatment centers for veterans.
“We lost far too many veterans in the Soldiers’ Homes at the beginning of the COVID pandemic,” said Nguyen. “That’s why I was proud to cast my vote in favor of reforms at the Soldiers’ Homes. Our Veterans, who put everything on the line for our country, deserve better treatment, and it is our responsibility to give it to them.”
In addition to clarifying the chain of command, the legislation requires that management of the two state soldier’s homes hold certification in nursing home management. The legislation also established ombudsman positions, which would provide full-time advocates for veterans residing in the home an avenue for issues, complaints, or other concerns. The bill also created a state-wide veterans advocate officer.
Both bills now proceed to the Senate.