The Baker administration wants to make commercial licenses available only to motorists with years of clean driving history and to increase safety in the wake of a fatal crash, but the Registry of Motor Vehicles cannot do so until the Legislature acts, Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack told lawmakers Thursday.

In the wake of a crash allegedly caused by a driver who should not have been on the road, Gov. Charlie Baker in July filed a bill (H 3980) that requires better notification about violations and strengthens punishments on commercial motorists who commit moving violations.

As the Transportation Committee took up the bill Thursday, Pollack said almost all of the recommended changes addressing "critical issues" could not be made by the RMV without statutory authorization from lawmakers.

"When it comes to commercial driver's licenses, for the drivers who are driving the biggest and most dangerous vehicles on our roads, there were some learnings from the tragic accident that occurred in New Hampshire last summer that the Registry doesn't have the legal authority to take action on," Pollack told reporters after testifying.

Under the bill, motorists would be ineligible to receive a new commercial license if they have had their standard license suspended or have been disqualified from driving during the three-year period preceding their application.

Minimum suspensions would double from 60 days to 120 days for existing commercial licensees who commit two serious traffic violations in a three-year period and from 120 days to 240 days for those who commit three violations in three years.

"The majority of the folks with CDLs are good drivers who are doing their job and who are safe, but there are clearly a smaller number of bad actors with a repeated history of serious driving problems," Pollack said. "Right now, we don't think we have enough statutory authority either to prevent them from getting a CDL or to take it away if there's a series of serious violations that occur in a short period of time."

The Transportation Committee has been investigating failures at the Registry and held a lengthy oversight hearing in July, but is still working through 400,000 documents they have received from MassDOT and Grant Thornton as well as follow-up requests, according to co-chair Rep. William Straus.

Straus, who spent the fall feuding with the Baker administration over access to records, told the News Service the committee will complete its own report with recommended next steps for the RMV. He also said "there are likely to be some" additional legislative changes members seek beyond commercial license requirements, but did not offer a timeline for unveiling a proposal.

Although committee leaders previously said they intended to reconvene the oversight hearing to question additional witnesses from software vendor Fast Enterprises and other involved parties, Straus said Thursday they may no longer need to do so.

"It may be that the documents we've gotten related to Fast Enterprises and Grant Thornton now obviate the need for a hearing," Straus told the News Service. "We may have a hearing, but we might not given the records we've received."

The bill also aims to guarantee that both the state and businesses are aware when drivers should not be on the road. Commercial license-holders would be required to notify the RMV and their employer within a single day after they are convicted of violating traffic laws in any state or locale or if any state suspends their right to operate a vehicle.

Employers who hire commercial motorists would also need to sign up for the Driver Verification System, which would alert them when the status of an employee's license changes.

Officials said the driver in the June 21 crash, Volodymyr Zhukovskyy, should have had his license suspended before the incident because he had been arrested in May for allegedly operating under the influence and refusing a chemical test in Connecticut.

Pollack told reporters the notification requirement would help ensure drivers with disqualifying violations are not on the road.

"We can suspend their license, we will suspend their license, but it's equally important that their employer knows because that would have given the employer the opportunity to say, 'hey, you shouldn't have been driving that truck that day,' " she said.

The bill also aligns statutes with federal requirements, which Pollack said is the lone component the RMV could have implemented without first securing approval on Beacon Hill. However, she told lawmakers the administration felt it was important to enshrine the changes in statute before acting.

Baker's bill is the only major legislative proposal to emerge in the Legislature as a response to the breakdowns at the RMV.

The Zhukovskyy error was not isolated: as became clear after the crash, the RMV for years had been failing to process out-of-state notifications despite several red flags and internal warnings that officials missed.

Between the scandal's emergence in July and the conclusion of audit firm Grant Thornton's investigation in October, the RMV suspended licenses of more than 6,300 Massachusetts motorists. Most came from old out-of-state violations in the backlog, though some were a result of new alerts received during day-to-day operations.

Acting Registrar Jamey Tesler, who joined Pollack at the hearing, said Thursday he could not provide an updated estimate of license suspensions.

"On any given day, the Registry of Motor Vehicles has hundreds if not thousands of suspensions that we issue, so separating those out is difficult at this time," Tesler told reporters.