(Original Story Here: http://www.lowellsun.com/opinion/ci_30112011/beacon-hill-sneaks-got-caught-this-time)
Did Massachusetts Senate Democrats push through an 11th-hour amendment to soften the rules to give illegal immigrants a pathway toward obtaining driver's licenses? You bet they did, and anyone who says otherwise isn't being truthful.
State Rep. Jim Lyons, an Andover Republican, caught Democratic State Sen. Tom McGee's sneaky maneuver and bellowed loud and clear about it.
Car engines on Beacon Hill already were revving in the reserved parking lot, readying for the stampede out of Boston for the Fourth of July weekend, so Lyons' objections weren't taken too kindly by the Lynn legislator and the liberal horde. Some tried to shout Lyons down.
But a good thing Lyons came, saw and spoke out. He was correct.
McGee, a legislator since 2002, tucked in an obscure amendment to the state's bloated $39.15 billion budget that would soften eligibility rules for obtaining a Real ID card. It's a major security initiative being implemented by the federal government to identify all legal U.S. citizens. McGee's vaguely worded provision sought to redefine "legal resident" as "lawful resident," thus opening the door to all kinds of bureaucratic shenanigans in which illegal immigrants might become eligible for driver's licenses.
Gov. Charlie Baker, prompted by a protest letter from Republicans, has vowed to dislodge McGee's unconstitutional language and replace it with his own to keep illegal immigrants from getting driver's licenses.
Hooray for Massachusetts -- at least until the next budget season.
McGee's trickery is nothing new. It is borne out of arrogance from a majority party that has ruled Beacon Hill for decades. And those who condone it are just as insulting to citizens who struggle every day to make sense of a state spending $2 billion a year on benefits to illegal immigrants while schools and the elderly suffer for appropriate funding.
One local senator had the gall to say McGee didn't try to sneak in the amendment. Then why didn't he disclose it prior to the last day of the legislative session leading into a holiday weekend?
The Real ID issue has been on the table since October 2015, when Gov. Baker filed legislation to move Massachusetts into compliance with U.S. Department of Homeland Security rules. Democrats took no action. Yet all of a sudden -- during the final budget-setting chaos -- McGee found nirvana to push his provision.
Sadly, the issue of what to do with illegal immigrants who have obeyed the law, except for how they got here, is worthy of open debate. McGee, if he were so courageous on the subject, should have pushed for legislative action through proper channels.
But that's too much work when you can just try to sneak it through.