Real ID Act delayed
States now have an extra year and a half to comply with the federal Real ID Act, which requires state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards to meet federal standards to be accepted for federal purposes. However, many states remain opposed to the act, and some of them have flatly, and statutorily, refused to comply.
On March 4, U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano extended the May 11, 2011, deadline for states to be in full compliance to Jan. 15, 2013. Real ID was established at the recommendation of the 9/11 Commission, which was formed in November 2002 to review the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and recommend ways to improve national security.
The delay is necessary because several hurdles remain before most states that are willing to comply with Real ID can do so, says Molly Ramsdell, director of the Washington Office for the Washington-based National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). For example, while Real ID requires that states verify with the state of issuance that the driver’s licenses and identification cards of new residents comply with the act, no system currently exists for them to do so. “States should not be required to do this until such a system does exist,” Ramsdell says.
Also, since the act was passed in 2005, many states have called for its repeal because of concerns of privacy and cost. According to NCSL, 16 states have passed laws saying they will not comply with Real ID, and 10 more have approved resolutions opposing the act. Under Real ID regulations, a state must submit material to DHS to prove it is in compliance, but Ramsdell says the statutes in the 16 states forbid them from doing so. “It doesn’t mean they haven’t implemented all the standards, but it may mean that they can’t do that last step [of applying to be in compliance],” Ramsdell says.
The price of security
When DHS released the final rule on Real ID in January 2008, the cost to states was estimated at $3.9 billion, according to NCSL. To date, states have received less than $200 million from Congress to help cover those expenses.