Guest columnist Phillip Korman: Yes on 4 — common sense for safer roads
Published October 11, 2022, in the Daily Hampshire Gazette opinion section
The Work and Family Mobility Act, passed this summer by an overwhelming majority in the Massachusetts Legislature, was a common-sense move towards safer roads and transportation options for everyone. It enabled all qualified state residents, regardless of immigration status, to apply for a standard Massachusetts driver’s license, thereby ensuring safer roads and transportation options for all of us. Now, this new law is under threat — and you can help save it by voting “yes” on ballot question 4 on Nov. 8.
The Work and Family Mobility act has a straightforward logic to it: If every driver is trained, tested, licensed, and insured, the roads will be safer for all of us. That’s why it garnered the support of the Massachusetts Major Cities Chiefs of Police Association, whose members lead two-thirds of the state’s total police force, as well as by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey and a majority of the state’s district attorneys and sheriffs. Similar measures have been passed in 17 other states, and the results are clear: significantly fewer hit-and-runs (a drop of 10% in Connecticut, for example) and steep declines in uninsured drivers (80% in Utah, for another example).
Why is an agricultural organization like CISA (Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture) taking a stand on this issue? Because we know that our nation’s agricultural system and our immigration system are inextricably linked — and they are both deeply flawed. Most of the food grown in the United States is produced under physically demanding, unstable, low-paying conditions, and studies show that up to half of farm workers are undocumented. We know that much of the food grown in Massachusetts, too, is grown by immigrant workers. These workers put in long, demanding hours growing food that we all rely on, and they are essential to keeping local farms running. They pay taxes while being ineligible to collect any federal unemployment or retirement and while commonly being denied any pathway to legal residency. The right to obtain a driver’s license is a small change with huge impacts for these communities, enabling them to drive safely to work, to feed their families, and to live their lives without daily fear.
Our nation needs better food and farm policies and serious immigration reform. In the meantime, our decisions must respond to the current reality. Everyone who needs to be on the road — which certainly includes people who live and work in our rural part of the state — should be allowed to take the necessary steps to drive legally. This is a no-brainer step towards making the roads safer for all of us, as results from 17 other states show.
You can learn more about this campaign, and how to support it, by searching for Yes for Safer Roads on all social media platforms or visiting saferroadsma.com. And on Nov. 8, turn over your ballot to find question 4 and say yes to safer roads, yes to legal and regulated driving, and yes to common sense!
Philip Korman is executive director of CISA (Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture).