Rep. Stark's Leg Director: Why We Asked about License Suspensions

Monday, March 1, 2010 | Margy's Blog & Updates

Here is a great letter from Jeff Hild, Representative Stark's legislative director, explaining the significance of the new GAO report on License Suspensions and Jobs. 




Today the GAO released the report: “License Suspensions for Nondriving Offenses: Practices in Four States That May Ease the Financial Impact on Low-Income Individuals” (GAO-10-217) that your organization may find interesting. Representatives Pete Stark, Jim McDermott, and Gwen Moore requested the report out of concern that low-income individuals and their families may be disproportionately impacted by policies that suspend driver’s licenses based on non-driving offenses. 


In many communities, access to an automobile is essential for economic mobility and the ability to obtain and retain employment.  The GAO found that states suspend driver’s licenses for a variety of reasons that are not directly related to driving safety.  Some of these suspension policies are the result of federal mandates (in the case of child support enforcement) and others (such as suspensions for failing to pay fine) are state prerogatives.  Unfortunately, little is known about the effectiveness of suspension policies and who is most impacted and the GAO found that this data is not collected or aggregated at either the federal or state level.  The GAO report does examine promising projects and policies in four states that help to ameliorate the negative economic effects of license suspension on low-income individuals.


The important themes of the GAO report include:

·      The lack of information available on the effectiveness of suspensions for non-driving offenses and the economic impact that license suspensions have on low-income people and their communities.  Data from New Jersey showed that suspension rates were four times higher for drivers in extremely low-income ZIP codes;

·      States and local jurisdictions have flexibility under existing law to use suspension as a last resort and ameliorate the economic impact of suspensions through exemptions, payment assistance, license reinstatement support, and other means;

·      Promising programs exist in some areas to assist low-income individuals who are facing suspension or have already had their license suspended; however, the lack of information on suspension makes it difficult to assess the need for these programs and there are numerous challenges in implementing and bringing to scale effective programs.


You can access the GAO report here:


If you have questions, please contact Jeff Hild (Rep. Stark), Laura Bernsten (Rep. McDermott), or Eyang Nyambi (Rep. Moore).  





Jeff Hild

Legislative Director

Rep. Pete Stark (CA-13)



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Beth's Music Lessons

Monday, February 8, 2010 | Margy's Blog & Updates



Dear Beth, 

We miss you already.

As others have written in the last few days (see here and here), you had a remarkable impact on labor market policy advocacy.  Your work is especially important because it’s so accessible to a broad audience. 

Of even more benefit – you’ve left so many of us with lessons in making time for the joy.

Our friend E.J. Dionne introduced us at one of his off-the-record, intimate “Friday lunches” at the Brookings Institution. I’d already read your book and the lunch was one of those thrilling DC-life moments for me – the chance to meet and talk with a person whose work I greatly admired.

Not only did you prove to be super smart, but also lovely and so NICE!!!  

Only later – when I’d left my job at Brookings – did I come to realize just how much you could offer to the struggling policy entrepreneur. Most important to my colleagues at The Mobility Agenda and me: you really truly understood and supported our effort to change the conversation about poverty and low-wage work. This support made such a difference to us --- especially when you agreed to moderate one of our most visible events: Lessons from the UK and US: Developing Goals for Economic Mobility, Social Inclusion, and Employment.

Your encouragement of the staff and friends of The Mobility Agenda meant so much to us. We loved having you join our planning sessions and we benefitted enormously from your strategic thinking about policy and politics.

We’ll always remember the encouragement and enthusiasm you offered so generously and so often.

But, my favorite memories are not those of our shared vision for the work.

No – instead I’m moved most by your suggestion to take time off to hear the music.

One week, you told me that we needed to hear the National Symphony on a Friday afternoon. So, on a gorgeous sunny day, we met for lunch outside the Kennedy Center and then went to listen to some glorious music.

You were so right – it was an important thing to do.

Beth, I want to do my best to honor both your commitment to the work and to taking the time for the music in life. Thank you for sharing these gifts with us all. Inspired by you and the difficult reminder that time is so precious, I will take an afternoon soon and often for music, dance, theatre, storytelling, galleries…joy.

Gratefully, your admirer, 

Margy Waller
Executive Director
The Mobility Agenda

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