The Real ID Revolt took root today as Montana enacted the first state law to reject the 2005 national law. When Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D) signed legislation April 17 banning the state's motor vehicles department from enforcing the Real ID rules, he likely opened the floodgates for other states to follow suit and for the Democrat-controlled Congress to act to repeal or fund the mandate, Stateline.org reports.
Schweitzer said the Real ID law is another way for the federal government to stomp on residents' personal privacy. “Montanans don’t want the federal agents listening to their phone conversations, rifling through their papers, checking on what books they read and monitoring where they go and when. We think they ought to mind their own business,” he said in a written statement.
Washington state's legislature has passed a similar bill awaiting Gov. Christine Gregoire's (D) signature. And 30 more states have bills in various stages all rejecting the Real ID law.
“When a state like Montana tells the federal government to take a hike, it brings down the whole house of cards. If there was ever any question that Congress would be forced to revisit this misguided law, there is no more," Barry Steinhardt of the American Civil Liberties Union said in a statement.
Meanwhile in Congress, U.S. Sens. Daniel Akaka (D) of Hawaii and John Sununu (R) of New Hampshire have revived a 2006 bill to repeal Real ID. In the House Rep. Tom Allen (D) of Maine has a bill rejecting the act.
While some states are deeply concerned about the cost burdens of implementing microchip-enabled drivers' licenses, in Montana it was all about privacy and keeping the federal government out of citizens' lives.
Montana state Rep. Brady Wiseman (D), the bill's main sponsor, said his colleagues were most concerned about privacy issues and Real ID's requirement to digitally store personal information and make that information available to other states. "We just didn’t see the benefit here from going through all that rigmarole," said Wiseman, whose bill passed the Republican-controlled state House and Democratic-controlled Senate with unanimous support.The Dept. of Homeland Security stuck to the rules defined in the law.
"The states reserve the right to choose not to comply with Real ID," said Russ Knocke, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. But he noted that citizens in states without compliant licenses will not be able to use their licenses to board commercial flights or enter federal buildings.