Utah May Reject REAL ID


Yesterday, the Government Operations Committee of the Utah House of Representatives voted unanimously for a bill (HB449) that would bar the Utah Driver's License Division from implementing the REAL ID act of 2005. Utah isn't alone, a number of other states have opted out of REAL ID by statute, have passed legislation opposing it, or have legislation pending.

REAL ID would standardize the identity documents required to get a driver's license across the US, standardize some of the information on the driver's license itself, and introduce a common machine readable technology for driver's licenses nationwide. In addition, REAL ID mandates that states share driver's license data with each other.

There are fiscal concerns--the Dept. of Homeland Security estimated that the cost of compliance with the federal legislation would be $17 billion. If you read the fiscal note on HB449, it only discusses the impact of not implementing REAL ID. I'm more concerned with what the legislature thought the impact of complying would be.

The minutes aren't online from yesterday's meeting yet, but the audio is. HB449 is discussed about half way through.

Jim Harper who spoke in Utah on REAL ID in 2006 and testified before the GOC last year was referenced in the testimony. also read testimony from legislators from two other states.

Beyond the fiscal impact there are significant privacy concerns.

Overall there is tremendous pushback against a national ID card, even one by proxy as REAL ID attempts to create. If Congress is serious, they'll tie it to highway funding. I don't think that there's much support in Congress for that given the rebellion that's happening with the current implementation.

The impact of not complying is that Utah driver's licenses might not be usable as identification when flying and entering federal buildings. I doubt any state will be ready by the May 1st deadline and DHS has allowed for extensions. I think you could read HB449 as even prohibiting that. Even so, Nanette Rolfe, director of the Utah Driver License Division, said she's already filed for an extension until Dec. 31, 2009.

After that will Utahns still be able to fly? Yeah, there's enough angst about this that I doubt DHS will put the restrictions into effect. This one's headed back to DC for a rework, I'm guessing.