BOSTON (SHNS) – A cohort of Massachusetts mayors expressed their support Tuesday for legislation that would offer a pathway for some immigrants without legal status to obtain a driver’s license in the state, a move they say would help their constituents who do not have a legal avenue to drive.

Pending for years on Beacon Hill, the bill (H 4470) cleared the House for the first time on a 120-36 vote in February and is awaiting action in the Senate where President Karen Spilka has said she looks forward to bringing the bill to a vote “so it can become law.”

At a press conference hosted by the Driving Families Forward Coalition, one of the main advocacy groups pushing the bill, Lynn Mayor Jared Nicholson said there was a point in the pandemic when Lynn’s transportation vendor was unable to get a certain population of students to school for a period of time as a result of capacity issues. “One of the things I thought was particularly frustrating and just unfair was that for certain families who were trying to get to school, during that time period, specifically, there was this inability to legally obtain driver’s license that would allow for them to lawfully get their kids to school,” he said.

The House passed the bill with a veto-proof margin even though eight Democrats joined all 28 Republicans in opposition. Critics of the bill say it may allow people to unlawfully register to vote under the state’s automatic voter registration law and asks too much of the Registry of Motor Vehicles.

Former State Police sergeant Rep. Timothy Whelan (R-Brewster) has said he has “serious concerns” with the agency’s ability to validate documents. The proposal, as passed by the House, would allow people without proof of lawful residency in the United States to apply for a license if they have at least two documents proving their identity, birth date, and Massachusetts residency.