Illegal immigrants could lose their ticket to drive after a bill aimed at repealing their driving privilege cards was approved by the Utah House of Representatives on Monday.

A key issue before the 39-35 vote to send HB237 to the Senate was insurance. Opponents of the measure cited a recently legislative audit that found 76 percent of driving privilege card holders were insured. But Rep. Stephen Sandstrom, R-Orem, said drivers with licenses issued in other countries can get insured, though often at a higher premium.

"We do not need a driving privilege card to give insurance," he said. "There is a good reason why other states are dropping (illegal immigrants') driving privilege cards and driver licenses."

Opponents hinted at a separate measure, HB171, which was unanimously approved in a House committee Monday. That bill would revoke the cards held by uninsured drivers and clarify that the cards could not be used for identification purposes.

Rep. Brad Daw, R-Orem, sponsor of HB171, said he still supports his bill. But he also voted in favor Monday of HB237 after hearing that it is possible to get insurance without the driving privilege card.

"My main purpose here is, let's protect our citizens without giving huge benefits to" illegal immigrants, he said.

HB237 now moves to the Senate, where Senate President John Valentine, R-Orem, says the GOP has yet to take a position on either of the measures. Valentine said he would support tightening the card's provisions but not eliminating it altogether.

Senate Majority Leader Curt Bramble, R-Provo, who has told the Deseret Morning News he is Senate sponsor of HB171, is also listed as Senate sponsor of HB237.

Bramble said the real question is whether Utah citizens are "better served by having several thousand individuals driving on the roads without insurance and having met minimal driving proficiency."

Valentine said that's what would happen without the cards. "They'd be driving anyway," he said. Bramble said he expects his bill will have "broad-based" support in the Senate.

During Monday's hearing Rep. Glenn Donnelson, R-North Ogden, said he's sponsoring HB237 because the cards that allow illegal immigrants drive legally aren't as secure as driver licenses and they attract illegal immigrants to Utah.

The driving privilege card, he said, "undermines federal efforts to enforce federal immigration laws."

Contributing: Lisa Riley Roche

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