Mass. keeps new immigrant driver’s license law; Healey makes history 

DEMOCRATIC ATTORNEY General Maura Healey has been elected governor of Massachusetts, making history as the nation’s first openly lesbian governor and the state’s first woman and openly gay candidate elected to the office. Healey defeated Republican candidate Geoff Diehl, a former state representative who had the endorsement of former President Donald Trump. / MICHAEL DWYER / ASSOCIATED PRESS

BOSTON (AP) – Massachusetts voters have voted against repealing a new law allowing immigrants who are in the country illegally to obtain state driver’s licenses in the same election that named the nations first first openly lesbian governor.

The driver’s license measure became law after the Democrat-controlled Massachusetts House and Senate overrode a veto by Republican Gov. Charlie Baker in June. Republicans pushed the ballot question to repeal the law. Voters opted instead to keep it by approving Question No. 4 on the ballot. 

Under the new law, people in the country illegally will be able to apply for a driver’s license if they can provide the Registry of Motor Vehicles with a foreign passport or consular identification document. 

They will also have to provide one of five additional documents: a driver’s license from another U.S. state or territory; a birth certificate; a foreign national identification card; a foreign driver’s license; or a marriage certificate or divorce decree from any U.S. state or territory. 

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The law was a win for immigrant rights groups that had long pushed for the measure, framing it in part as a public safety measure. They said that under the law those seeking licenses will have to show they can properly operate a car and get insurance for their car in the event of a crash. 

Critics, including outgoing Republican Gov. Charlie Baker and GOP candidate for governor Geoff Diehl, said the law could make it easier for those in the country illegally to be able to vote. Diehl and the state Republican party helped lead the effort to repeal the law. Supporters say the law takes steps to guard against illegal voting. 

The new law is set to take effect July 1, 2023. Massachusetts will join 16 other states and the District of Columbia that have similar laws. 

Another hotly contested ballot question in Massachusetts — one that would create a tax aimed at millionaires — remained too early to call early Wednesday. 

Ballot question No. 1 would add an amendment to the state constitution imposing a 4% surtax on the portion of an individual’s annual income that exceeds $1 million. 

Those making up to $1 million, but not exceeding that amount, wouldn’t pay new taxes. 

Supporters — including labor unions, community organizations and religious groups — have argued that the new tax would generate about $2 billion in annual revenue that could be used for education and transportation. 

Opponents, including business groups, warned the measure could end up costing jobs and driving away some of the state’s wealthiest citizens. 

The state’s constitution currently requires all income be taxed at uniform rates. The $1 million threshold would be adjusted each year to reflect cost-of-living increases. 

Voters split on two other questions on the ballot. 

Question No. 2, which was approved Tuesday, would regulate dental insurance rates, including requiring companies to spend at least 83% of premiums on member dental expenses and quality improvements instead of administrative expenses, and by making other changes to dental insurance regulations. 

Voters rejected Question No. 3, which would have increased the number of licenses a retailer could have for the sale of alcoholic beverages to be consumed off premises, limit the number of “all-alcoholic beverages” licenses a retailer could acquire, restrict use of self-checkout, and require retailers to accept customers’ out-of-state identification. 

Earlier Tuesday, Democratic Attorney General Maura Healey was elected governor of Massachusetts, making history as the nation’s first openly lesbian governor. 

Healey, the state’s first woman and openly gay candidate elected to the office, defeated Republican Diehl, a former state representative who had the endorsement of former President Donald Trump. 

Her election returns the governor’s office to Democrats after eight years of Republican leadership under the popular Gov. Charlie Baker, who opted not to seek reelection. 

Healey and her running mate, Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll, were among three all-female governor/lieutenant governor tickets in the U.S. that began Election Day with a chance to become the first such pairing elected to lead a state. 

The Republican all-female ticket of Sarah Huckabee Sanders for governor and Leslie Rutledge for lieutenant governor won in Arkansas. In Ohio, the ticket of Democrat Nan Whaley and running mate Cheryl Stephens lost to Republican Gov. Mike DeWine. 

Healey was also one of two openly lesbian candidates who ran to be a governor in the country. Healey and Democrat Tina Kotek, a candidate for governor in Oregon, each began the day with a chance to become the first open lesbian elected governor of a state. 

Healey addressed supporters at a downtown Boston hotel after her victory Tuesday night. 

“To those who voted for me and to those who didn’t I want you to know that I’ll be a governor for everyone and I’ll work with anyone who’s up for making a difference in this state,” Healey said. 

Healey also addressed the historic nature of her win. 

“Tonight I want to say something to every little girl and every young LGBTQ person out there. I hope tonight shows you that you can be whatever, whoever you want to be and nothing and no one can ever get in your way except you own imagination and that’s not going to happen.” Healey said. 

“I stand before you tonight proud to be the first woman and the first gay person ever elected governor of Massachusetts,” she added. 

Diehl told supporters at a Boston hotel that he had called Healey to congratulate her on her win. 

“The people of the commonwealth have spoken. I respect their choice and I ask everyone who has supported me and Leah to give her the same opportunity that I would have asked for if the shoe had been on the other foot,” he said, referring to his running mate Leah Allen. 

“Despite the outcome, I’m proud of the race we ran,” he added. “We highlighted issues that are important for people across the state.” 

Healey — elected eight years ago as the nation’s first openly gay attorney general — snapped what’s become known in Massachusetts as the “curse of the attorney general.” Since 1958, six former Massachusetts attorneys general have sought the governor’s office. All failed. 

During the campaign, Healey pledged to expand job training programs, make child care more affordable and modernize schools. Healey has also said she would protect “access to safe and legal abortion in Massachusetts” in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade. 

The 51-year-old has also checked off what she considers a series of accomplishments during her time as the state’s top law enforcement officer, including protecting students and homeowners from predatory lenders and suing Exxon Mobil over whether the oil giant misled investors and the public about its knowledge of climate change. 

Healey also targeted OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma and members of the Sackler family over allegations they deceived patients and doctors about the risks of opioids. 

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