Maine rejects Real ID - in a nonbinding resolution

Legislature passes nonbinding resolution condemning federal law that many see as facilitating identity theft, loss of privacy. But a more serious move may be on the way.
Written by Richard Koman, Contributor

The federal Real ID Act is widely maligned by states as an unfunded mandate that requires states to spend millions to create new drivers' licenses that can be linked to a national database.

Today, the Maine Legislature said "thanks but no thanks" to the requirement, passing a non-binding resolution asking Congress to rescind the law, the Bangor Daily News reports. Despite the opposition, though, states that refuse to implement the law would face the loss of millions in federal funds. But implementing the law could cost more. Supporters of the nonbinding resolution say Real ID will cost $185 million over the first five years.

Jim Harper of the Cato Institute warned that negative consequences of a national ID card would be "profound."

"Lawful trade and travel would be disrupted for ID checks, at a substantial cost to both liberty and commerce. What little benefits we’d reap would not be worth the price," said Harper.

Shenna Bellows of the Maine Civil Liberties Union predicted many states would pass similar resolutions. "I think there’s going to be a huge snowball of these" resolutions, she said.

The National Conference of State Legislatures voted in August to approve a resolution to demand that Congress either find a way to pay for the Real ID Act or repeal it by the end of 2007.

While the resolution is not binding - "it's more expressing our feeling and intent that we’re not interested in following through," conceded Democratic House Majority Leader Hannah Pingree - another bill is moving through the state legislature to direct the secretary of state not to comply with the federal law.

Senate Majority Leader Elizabeth Libby Mitchell, D-Vassalboro, sponsor of the resolution, said Real ID "will do nothing to make us safer, but it is our job as state legislators to protect the people of Maine from just this sort of dangerous federal mandate."
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