Guest still fighting Real ID
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — If Missouri rejects national driver’s licenses, residents could face additional screening at airports while passengers from other states breeze on past the extra security.
It’s a reality, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
The federal solution for folks caught up in the mess? Line up for a passport.
At least eight states have passed laws that reject the federal Real ID Act of 2005 and prohibit compliance. A congressional response to security breaches from the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the federal law gives Homeland Security the authority to impose uniform driver’s license requirements on states.
Rep. Jim Guest, R-King City, told a Senate committee Monday he believes that’s a violation of the 10th Amendment. Mr. Guest for more than a year has rallied a nationwide movement to pressure Congress for a repeal, citing privacy and identity theft concerns.
Alaska was the most recent state to refuse to comply, unless certain funds are withdrawn as a result.
Mr. Guest, the sponsor of a bill that adds Missouri to the list, is hoping for about a dozen more states to come through, while related legislation is circulating in nearly every state. And while there’s been no repeal, efforts are building in Washington to strip the initiative of its funding.
Real ID regulations originally were set to be effective this year, but Homeland Security granted every state an extension through December 2009. Before then, the states need to pass legislation that enact the requirements, Mr. Guest said.
“There has not been a single state to enact it yet ... I think the Department of Homeland Security doesn’t think it’s going to work,” he said.
But a Homeland Security spokeswoman said if states don’t comply, federal officials will not recognize the driver’s licenses they issue. That means residents of those states won’t be able to enter certain federal buildings and will have to yield to additional screening at airports, Amy Kudwa in Washington told the News-Press Monday. “There are practical implications,” Ms. Kudwa said. “Their licenses no longer will be valid.”
Ms. Kudwa encouraged Missourians, Alaskans or anyone else in non-compliant states to apply for a passport, which will be accepted as a valid form of ID. Military-issued IDs would, too.
“We don’t have an ability to waive compliance with a federal law,” she said.
States have until December 2009 to comply with one of the 18 Real ID benchmarks — to validate that residents are legally present in the United States before issuing them a license. The 18 benchmarks are included in the News-Press’ political blog at www.stjoenews.net/news/blogs/politicalpunch/.
The full compliance deadline comes in December 2014 for residents 50 and younger. Residents 50 and older have until 2017.
Mr. Guest’s HB 1716 would stop the state from “amending any procedures for applying for a driver’s license or identification card in order to comply with the standards,” under the bill’s summary available at www.house.mo.gov.
If it becomes law, “I don’t think it will cause any drastic change when you get on an airplane,” he speculated. “I think that’s a bluff on their part.”
The House of Representatives passed the bill 138-3 earlier this month. It needs success in the Senate committee and the full Senate before Gov. Matt Blunt can sign it into law.
Committee chairman Sen. Matt Bartle, R-Lee’s Summit, praised Mr. Guest for his “catalog” of knowledge on the subject, but there was no other discussion or testimony Monday. With three weeks left in the session, Mr. Guest is pushing hard for passage.
Alyson E. Raletz can be reached
Mr. Guest should not be using Missourians as pawns. Who is he to say that Homeland Security is "bluffing" about the headaches air travelers will encounter when flying out of Missouri. The federal government is giving states plenty of time to comply with new Real ID requirements; why the holdup? Missouri should get their ducks in a row and start ensuring that their residents are legitimate.
i have an absolute problem with the national ID. i commend mr. guest's efforts. the federal government is becoming the proverbial big brother. this measure will make no one safer.