Bill to ban driver's license headgear proposed

  • March 2, 2009 - 7:57 AM

A St. Cloud legislator is trying to pass a bill that would ban any kind of headwear on driver's license photos, according to WCCO-TV..

The bill has sparked a conflict between the St. Cloud legilsator sponsoring the proposal and people in the Muslim community.

Rep. Steve Gottwalt (R-St. Cloud) said it is a matter of safety to help law enforcement identify people easier. However, people in the Muslim community said covering their heads is their religious right.

"Daily, I cover my hair. And I don't think I need to show my hair on a driver's license. It just doesn't make sense to me at all," Susan Khalif told WCCO.

The Muslim community points out that some members of other religious groups would also be affected if the bill passed.

"It's really not about religion at all. It's about public safety," Gottwalt told WCCO, exsplaining that: "We've heard law enforcement people tell us about gangbangers wearing their hats differently and those kinds of things that kind of get in the way of quickly identifying who this person is."

Gottwalt is hoping to get a hearing for the bill soon.

"People identify individuals more than just the eyes, and the nose, and the mouth and the front face. They look at the hair, and the ears, and the sideburns and other features of the head," said Sgt. Jason Burke of the St. Cloud Police Department.

The bill has some exceptions as currently written, including for deformities or a medical condition that requires headwear.

Airline security entrances have seen changes regarding headwear. The Transportation Security Administration used to ask anyone with any kind of head covering to go through security twice, but not leave it up to the TSA screener to decdide whether more than one pass is needed.

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