Deep blue liberal states and deep red conservative states agree on at least one thing: They don’t want the federal government messing with the driver’s licenses they issue.
A federal law requires that driver’s licenses may not be used for identification purposes unless they have certain security features and were issued after applicants proved their legal residency. Unless states implement these “Real ID” features, residents will not be able to use their driver’s licenses to board aircraft or visit military installations. The deadline is January.
Only 25 states have complied with the new law. The other 25 have resisted. Conservatives have always been leery of government IDs, thinking that they might be used to violate civil liberties. Others resent the violation of federalism, with the federal government presuming to dictate to states about a matter traditionally under state jurisdiction. Liberals don’t like the law either. I suspect a main issue is that the requirement to prove legal residency would prevent illegal immigrants from getting licenses.
At any rate, if those states are still out of compliance, voters who are not allowed to get on a plane will not be happy.
Most states, such as my Oklahoma, are coming around, but they plan to have a two-tiered license system. Drivers will be able to get either the regular state license or one that is Real ID compliant. Which will add confusion, unintended consequences, and a de facto government ID along with scrutiny as to why a person has the other kind.
Does the fight against terrorism give the federal government a compelling reason to legislate in this matter? Or is it another federal over-reach?
From Rachel La Corte, States scramble to comply with federal ID law, Associated Press:
Several states have struggled for years to comply with the REAL ID Act, a 2005 federal law that requires state driver’s licenses and ID cards to have security enhancements and to be issued to people who can prove they are legally in the United States.
With a January deadline looming, lawmakers across the country have been scrambling for legislative fixes so residents can board flights and travel without confusion.
Washington state was the latest to try to bring its system in line with those requirements, as Gov. Jay Inslee signed a measure Tuesday creating a two-tiered licensing system.
Here’s a look at the federal law and the potential impacts:
REAL ID ACT
The law was passed by Congress after the 2001 terrorist attacks to strengthen rules for government-sanctioned identification. It sets minimum standards for government-issued identification such as driver’s licenses that are required to enter certain areas in federal buildings or board commercial airplanes. Those standards include requiring applicants to provide proof of identity and legal US residency, and states to use counterfeit-resistant security features in the IDs.
STATUS OF STATES’ COMPLIANCE
Just 25 states and the District of Columbia are currently in compliance with the federal law, though most of the remaining states and territories have been granted extensions of various dates, according to the Department of Homeland Security’s website (http://1.usa.gov/239cQiA ). Maine, Minnesota, Missouri and Montana are the only states currently listed as not compliant with the law and without an extension from the federal government. However, Maine’s governor last month signed a REAL ID compliance bill passed by the Legislature, and the Minnesota Legislature passed a bill Wednesday that was signed by Gov. Mark Dayton on Thursday.
Alaska, Montana and Missouri this year have all passed bills awaiting their governors’ signatures.
Several other states are considering bills related to REAL ID compliance, including Oregon and Pennsylvania. Governors in Kentucky, Oklahoma and South Carolina also have signed REAL ID compliance bills this year.