A bill to provide H2A temporary agricultural workers with commercial driver’s licenses passed the House Agriculture and Rural Development Committee today, after passing the Senate earlier this month.
The bill, authored by Sen. Mike Schulz, allows the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety to issue nondomiciled driver’s licenses or learner’s permits to temporary workers, which was hindered by a Federal Motor Carrier Administration rule change last year.
“The H2A visa is a guest worker program used exclusively by agriculture,” Schulz said. “For these people not to be able to obtain a CDL was a great hindrance to their ability to be employed and do what they needed to do for their employer in the United States.”
Many Oklahoma farmers rely on custom harvesters, who need H2A workers to harvest crops. Without a CDL, those workers cannot do their jobs, Schulz said.
“If we pass the legislation, we feel confident that Federal Motor Carrier will allow the state of Oklahoma to issue these licenses like we always have done with no penalties,” he said. “When the crews are being assembled for spring harvest, (our goal) is to make sure they’re ready to go when the wheat is ready to go.”