Sen. James Brochin, a Baltimore County Democrat who was on the conference committee, praised the agreement, saying legislators were doing what their constituents wanted.
"July 1st, 2015, you don't show lawful presence, you don't get a driver's license," Brochin said.
The House of Delegates voted 76-60 to approve the compromise shortly before 11 p.m. and the Senate voted 29-16 to endorse the deal around 11:30 p.m. They had hoped to get enough votes to make the bill emergency legislation that would take effect April 19th, but fell short of that mark. The law they passed will take effect June 1st.
Some of the state's most liberal and conservative lawmakers joined forces to oppose the compromise for different reasons.
Montgomery County Del. Ana Sol Gutierrez, a Democrat who fought all session to maintain access to licenses for undocumented residents, said "this is not a compromise."
"It shows a real lack of understanding, I have never seen such a random creation of law, it is picked out of the air without any thought of the consequences," Gutierrez said. "I think we're going to see some court challenges to this."
Meanwhile, Sen. Andrew Harris, R-Baltimore, lobbied against the bill from the Senate floor, saying it was wrong for lawmakers to create a two-license system, even if it is phased out entirely by 2015.
"The American people, at least in my district, want no tolerance," Harris said. "This bill says you know what, you broke the law, and now we're going to give you amnesty at least until 2015."
State leaders were scrambling to pass the legislation in an effort to comply with the federal REAL ID law, which requires states to strengthen their identification documents.
Maryland has met some REAL ID benchmarks, but four remained unfulfilled because the state doesn't check applicants' residency status, according to Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration chief John Kuo. When the law is implemented, the federal government will only accept these new ID cards for activities like boarding airline flights and entering federal buildings.
Lawmakers said the measure meets REAL ID standards for lawful residency status.
Many lawmakers who favored a two-license system said they had hoped to push the expiration date further into the future to give President Barack Obama's administration as much time as possible to pass comprehensive immigration reform before tens of thousands of undocumented Maryland residents lose their licenses.
"We're hoping there is some immigration reform," Del. Kathleen Dumais, a Montgomery County Democrat, said. "And I want to be able to give as much possible time to this administration to hopefully find some path to citizenship for people who've been here, who've proved they can be good citizens and who'll be able to do whatever hurdles the administration says they'll need to be able to jump."
On the Net:
Read House Bill 387: http://mlis.state.md.us/2009rs/billfile/HB0387.htm