Tuesday, March 25, 2008

California Backs Off Real ID - Montana Wins Round 1

Some good news to report on the REAL ID front! The cracks in the DHS 's National ID plan are starting to widen. First, the California DMV requested an extension while specifically not making any promises as to whether it would actually implement the Act. DHS buckled, and gave the extension anyway.

What makes this important is DHS had originally said it would only grant extensions from the Real ID rules taking effect on May 11 to states that apply by March 31 and promise to implement Real ID by 2010.

But perhaps more importantly, DHS also granted Montana a waiver it explicitly did not ask for. In fact, Montana has specifically stated it will NOT COMPLY with the Act at all. Something tells me we may be seeing the beginning of the end of this abysmal piece of legislation.

From Wired Magazine:

That meant Tuesday's letter looked like enough to join California to the small rebellion against the Real ID rules. For Californians that would mean enduring the same fate facing citizens of South Carolina, Maine, Montana and New Hampshire.

They would have needed to dig out their passport, if they had one, every time they boarded a plane, or go through an extra level of TSA screening at airport metal detectors. Los Angeles and San Francisco airports could have had security lines stretching to the Sierras.

Californians would also have been barred from buying certain medicine, entering federal court buildings or getting help at the Social Security Administration, unless they have a passport. But after Threat Level provided Homeland Security spokesman Laura Keehner with the letter, Keehner said California's commitment to thinking about commitment is good enough.


At issue are long-delayed rules that require states to collect, verify and store birth and marriage certificates for nearly all citizens who have state-issued licenses or identification cards.


DHS says that it is committed to rejecting the rebel states' driver's licenses as acceptable proof of identification come May 11. That means almost every driver's license holder will have to get certified documents and go into the DMV to get a new license -- and many will likely have to go in more than once.

Now to Montana, and Gov. Brian Schweitzer victory in his initial stand off with DHS. Every state considering opposing this Act should look to Montana now:

The federal government won't penalize Montana for refusing to comply with the REAL ID Act, state officials said Friday - and Montanans can use their driver's licenses for identification when they board commercial airplanes.“We just stood our ground,” Gov. Brian Schweitzer said. “We didn't blink, we didn't buckle, and they said OK. We gave up about nothing.”


The state therefore has an extension until Dec. 31, 2009, when the next phase of REAL ID takes effect, Baker said.Schweitzer said he had been negotiating directly with Chertoff, saying Montana driver's licenses have the security provisions that REAL ID is expected to require in the future, but doesn't require now.

“It was becoming the theater of the absurd,” the governor said. “It didn't make sense for them to penalize Montana. They've accepted where we're at and we will continue to use (our licenses) at airports.”

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