State Lawmakers Looking To Help SD Spanish Speakers Get Driver’s License

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Some South Dakota lawmakers are looking to make it easier for Spanish speakers to get a driver’s license.

Senate Bill 117 was formally introduced late last month.

If it passes, the bill would give Spanish speakers the option of taking the written driver’s license exam in Spanish.

It would also make exam preparation materials available in Spanish.

Democratic state Senator Reynold Nesiba, of Sioux Falls, says South Dakota is one of six states that only offers a driver’s license written exam in English. He hopes to change that.

“We are safer as a community if folks know the rules of the road because they can read it in their own language,” Nesiba said.

The senator says he’s seen a lot of support for this bill.

“There were 14 proponents when this came up, so there is widespread support bi-partisan support,” Nesiba said.

Nesiba says this bill would help workforce development in South Dakota.

“It’s hard to get people to work if they don’t have a driver license or if you’re running a construction company and you need employees that can drive a utility truck to the work site, they need to have a South Dakota driver license,” Nesiba said.

However, at least one legislator isn’t completely sold on the bill.

“I understand this is a workforce challenge. I understand that, but I think we should address it in a different way,” Sen. Margaret Sutton (R-Sioux Falls) said.

Despite some criticism, Nesiba hopes lawmakers can work together to get this bill passed.

“If they wanted to amend it in a particular way to make it even better, I’d be really open to that conversation. But, we really need to get this going and start this process now,” Nesiba said.

Nesiba says the bill had its first hearing last week in the Senate Transportation Committee and passed.

He says it’s scheduled for a vote on the Senate floor sometime this week.

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