MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) – Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley has asked the state law enforcement agency to provide driving tests in all Alabama counties one day each month.
The governor made the announcement Friday after weeks of backlash over a state decision to close 31 rural drivers’ license offices in the face of budget cuts.
Bentley said he asked the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency to send a test examiner to each county one day each month in order to resume services. Driving tests had previously been given about once a week in the satellite locations.
Critics said the moved saved the state little money while creating a hardship for people in impoverished and rural areas. Congresswoman Terri Sewell had asked the Department of Justice to investigate since Alabama requires a photo identification to vote.
“After careful consideration of options regarding the closure of 31 Driver’s License offices in Alabama’s rural counties, I have asked that an Alabama Law Enforcement Agency examiner be provided one day a month to service those counties affected. On Thursday, I met with Congresswoman Terri Sewell, who represents eight of the impacted counties, to inform her of my decision. I recognize the closure of the 31 driver’s license offices affects mostly rural areas of the state. To suggest the closure of the driver’s license offices is a racial issue is simply not true, and to suggest otherwise should be considered an effort to promote a political agenda. Alabama has provided numerous options by which citizens can obtain a voter ID, and the closure of the Driver’s License offices should not be seen as a hindrance to someone’s ability to do that. The budget passed by the state Legislature required many executive branch departments to make difficult business decisions regarding how they will allocate their limited resources in Fiscal Year 2016. As the Governor of Alabama, I have the responsibility to run state government within the budget provided by the state legislature.”