Little good is found in basic plan

Published 12:00 am Monday, June 24, 2002

Not satisfied with a rejection by state lawmakers, Minnesota Public Safety Commissioner Charlie Weaver is making an end run around the concept of due process in an attempt to crack down on the issuing of driver’s licenses to non-citizens. Weaver's motives are admirable but his methods are suspect.

During the recently concluded legislative session, one bill would have required sterner proof of residency for driver's license applicants and would have limited the time period during which non-citizens' license would be valid. It also would have required non-citizens to carry color-coded driver's licenses. The first two provisions were a good idea, the last was ridiculous, only one step from requiring a "non-citizen" name badge.

Now Weaver is trying to push through his plan -- minus the color-coding idea -- via an administrative rule-making process that blocks public comments and requires only the approval of an administrative judge.

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There is little harm -- although probably little good -- in Weaver's basic plan. However, there is little urgency to the matter. His attempt to bypass the will of the people -- expressed via their elected representatives -- smacks of totalitarianism, precisely the type of heavy-handed government that Americans and Minnesotans abhor. It is a particularly alarming mindset for one of the state's top law enforcement officials.

If there is merit to new rules on how driver's licenses can be issued, then lawmakers will no doubt pass such a law next winter. In any case, Weaver should take an up-front approach to what he is doing, rather than trying to slip a new law into place.