Dan Walters

Dan Walters

By Dan WaltersBy
Published: Tuesday, Sep. 17, 2013 – 12:00 am
Last Modified: Tuesday, Sep. 17, 2013 – 12:13 am

Strange things tend to happen in the final hours of any legislative session. Last Thursday night was no exception.

As usual, legislative chambers and adjacent hallways, jammed with lobbyists, seethed with rumors about what would happen to dozens of pending bills or bills that might pop up, like mushrooms, in the dead of night.

As adjournment neared, one bill that would make about 1.4 million illegal immigrants eligible for driver’s licenses was especially dicey.

Its author, Assemblyman Luis Alejo, D-Watsonville, had declared that he probably would not take it up in the Senate.

It became apparent that organized labor was, for some reason, opposing the legislation despite pressure from immigrant rights advocates for it.

Semiofficially, the California Labor Federation didn’t like one provision that would place a special mark on licenses issued to illegal immigrants, but there were rumbles that the bill had somehow become entangled with other late-blooming issues.

Then Sen. Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, having been told by Gov. Jerry Brown that he was willing to sign the bill to goad Congress into immigration reform, decided to take up the bill. It passed easily, with a couple of Republican votes, and a final vote in the Assembly sent it to Brown.

The action may have left a bitter aftertaste. The Mexican American Political Association and other immigrant rights groups issued a statement castigating the labor federation and the Service Employees International Union for trying to stop the bill.

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