Friday, March 14, 2008

REAL ID Updates: Idaho, Maine, Montana

A couple days ago the good news was that California is beginning to make its move against the REAL ID Act too, hopefully joining the 17 states that have passed legislation through at least one state body opposing the law.

More good news, Idaho's House has just unanimously shot down the law. The New West Boise reports:

The Idaho House passed unanimously yesterday a bill directing the Idaho Department of Transportation not to implement the federal REAL ID Act – a decision that, if passed by the Senate and signed by Governor Butch Otter, could theoretically prevent Idahoans from using their driver’s licenses for boarding planes and opening some kinds of bank accounts.

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Assuming the federal government follows through on its threat to forbid citizens from non-REAL ID-complying states from boarding planes using driver’s licenses, Idaho citizens will still be able to use other types of government documents, such as passports.

Also on the REAL ID front, Maine is standing firm in its commitment to oppose the law too...and their battle with the feds appears to have gotten rather heated.

Rinf.com reports:

Essentially Real ID sets common standards for all drivers’ licenses and state identity cards nationwide and creates the electronic infrastructure that gives states and the federal government access to each other’s databases of personal information. Early last year an outraged and skeptical Maine legislature almost unanimously passed a bill opposing the new rules and forbidding the state’s participation. Since then at least sixteen other states have passed bills or resolutions similarly opposing.

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According to its opponents, Real ID is a massive invasion of personal privacy that offers no assurances of safety or security but will impose a multi-billion-dollar unfunded mandate on the states. Once in place, opponents add, Real ID presents the very real opportunity for “mission creep,” with its use expanding to include prescription drug purchases, banking, employment, and even access to a voting booth.

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Opposition to the new regulations has brought together an unusual assortment of players, from the MCLU to George Smith of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to legislative leaders of both parties. In truth, it’s difficult to find anyone in Maine who supports the measure outside the few dozen members of Mainers for a Sensible Immigration Policy, who hope that Real ID is the solution to the illegal immigration problem.

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Originally Real ID was promoted as an anti-terrorist measure, but that argument faltered when opponents pointed out that all of the 9/11 hijackers carried valid identification papers that would have passed the Real ID test. Then supporters argued that it would prevent identity theft — until the DHS’ Transportation Security Administration created a Web site that left the personal information of air travelers open to the public.

Now Real ID is being pushed as an anti-illegal immigration program, which makes some people wonder what that has to do with air travel. And since it’s a federal program being implemented by state motor vehicle departments, does that also turn drivers’ license examiners into immigration agents? Matt Dunlap says that’s not in the job description of any of his employees.

And finally, I want to give a little update on how Montana and its Governor Brian Schweitzer's fight with the Homeland Security Department is going. Gov. Schweitzer has been the most outspoken opponent to the law, and has led the effort to get more states to join him.

Montana's local CBS affiliate reports on the growing feud:


Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer says he is standing firm against a federal mandate to enact the federal Real ID Act. This after both of Montana's Senators called on the Department of Homeland Security to scrap a May 11th deadline.

At the security screening at Logan International Airport in Billings, you take off your belt, take off your shoes, empty your pockets and go through the gates. Now imagine having to go through that security screening a second time.

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Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer says, "It doesn't make our system more secure- it doesn't create more of a bond between Homeland Security and the States...Homeland Security and the federal government do not have a Real ID. They don't have an ID of any kind, and they freely admit it will be at least seven years before they have an ID."

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The Governor has till the end of this month to file for an extension. If not Homeland Security says a Montana drivers' license will not be recognized by the Federal Government. That means any Montanan who goes to the airport with only a Montana drivers license would have to go through security screening a second time.

"In May, Montana citizens will get on any plane in America by just simply showing them their drivers license. And I'll bet the ranch on that," says Schweitzer.

Stay tuned, this battle appears to be increasing in intensity, scope, and importance with each passing day...

1 comment:

Jeff Carr said...

Chertoff and DHS blinked, granting extensions to every state, whether they send one in or not. See my post on it at www.intelfusion.net