In 2005, Congress passed a law that would create a national identification (ID) system. Without coming out and creating a new federal ID, they decided to use the state driver licensing systems. Within three years all state motor-vehicle bureaus were supposed to have begun issuing driver’s licenses and ID cards according to federal standards. This law also provided for the sharing of data on individual drivers among government agencies and governments nationwide.
Many states rejected this unfunded federal surveillance mandate. Half the state legislatures in the country passed resolutions objecting to the REAL ID Act. It has been a decade and there is no national ID in place. Congress however continues to funnel money, more than a quarter billion dollars so far, into the project.
One of the threats being used by the government to force this system upon the states is through TSA. The REAL ID Act barred federal agencies from accepting licenses and ID’s from states not meeting the requirements. This scare tactic was supposed to force states into submission.
The law had a deadline for compliance, 2008. But in all of its efficiency the Department of Homeland Security took until 2007 to propose the regulations that would detail how states should comply with the law. DHS set a new deadline of December 31, 2009 for any state who that asked for an extension by October 1, 2007. Since then, more extensions have been granted, the requirements have been pared down but still, even with the lower requirements, there are still states who are non-compliant.
Kentucky is one such state despite the fact that we were one of REAL ID’s test grant states. We received $3,000,000 from the federal government in 2006. Since then we have gotten a waiver each time one was offered. But now the Senate has SB245 in committee which would make Kentucky adopt this ridiculous program.
One of the complaints of REAL ID from dmv.org is that in order to get your driver’s license you will need to produce:
- A photo ID, or non-photo ID that contains the applicant’s full legal name and birth date
- Valid birth certificate
- Social Security number
- Proof of legal U.S. citizenship, OR proof of lawful admittance into or temporary residence within the U.S
These documents will not only be looked, but will be permanently scanned into a government database to be shared with other states, businesses, and agencies.
Another big question is cost. An article in The Southern Illinoisian quotes the press secretary for Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White as saying the cost of upgrading the state’s 138 licensing facilities would be about $60 million. Ed Yohnka of the ACLU of Illinois said the new federally id could cost residents as much as $150 each. Currently Illinois driver’s license is $30. A 500% increase. A Kentucky driver’s license is $20, the estimated fee of the Federal ID will be $50.
Not only will the fee go up, but many states are struggling with the increased bureaucracy it takes to process the paperwork and maintain the system. This law has been such a debacle that there is already a Federal Bill, S2440, to repeal it.
During a time when the state legislature is facing big cuts in an attempt to restore worker’s pensions to solvency, don’t you think they should lay off adopting unnecessary federally issued unfunded mandates? Tell your state senator to kill SB245. We do not need to be spending money on a law that could be repealed.