Governors still oppose Real ID

National Governors Association

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The nation’s governors continue to oppose a controversial measure that will create stringent national driver’s license standards because it will be expensive and technologically problematic, according to a statement released by the National Governors Association.

According to the statement, governors also oppose the Real ID Act because it repeals a collaborative rulemaking committee established under the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act. The act was tacked on to an $82 billion supplemental war spending bill that passed the House and Senate and is awaiting President Bush’s signature.

The committee created by the intelligence act included state officials, who helped develop national standards for state driver’s licenses and identification cards. Development of standards will now fall under the purview of Homeland Security Department officials.

“Governors share Congress’ concern for increasing the security and integrity of driver’s licenses and state identification cards,” according to the association’s statement. “However, several of the requirements included in the Emergency Supplemental, particularly those having to do with verification of documents used to acquire an ID, are either technologically or fiscally prohibitive.”

The Real ID Act will impose national standards and physical security features on cards, including some biometrics and machine-readable technology, to prevent fraud, counterfeiting and tampering. State officials fear the federal government will not provide sufficient money to help motor vehicle departments implement technology to link their databases to those in other states, among other mandated provisions, and that customer service will suffer.

The Congressional Budget Office estimated that the cost to implement the Real ID act nationally in the next five years will be $100 million. However, opponents, who include the National Conference of State Legislatures, estimate cost between $500 million to $700 million.

Three years from now, federal agencies can deny a seat on a plane or access to a federal facility to people who have ID cards from states that do not comply with federal standards.

An official from the American Civil Liberties Union, which opposes the Real ID Act, said the group believes the legislation will create a national database and national ID card. The group is currently weighing legislative, regulatory and litigation options.

“It is true typically when a bill is written without benefit of any committee hearings in either the House or the Senate or without any true floor debate there are lots of provisions in a bill like that that typically have infirmities,” said Tim Sparapani, ACLU’s legislative counsel, in a recent interview. “I think this is a tremendous example of that principle at work.”


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