Let's get real ID in Penn­syl­va­nia

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FRONT PAGE -

Real ID is the U.S. law, and Penn­syl­va­nia can't put its fin­gers in its ears and sing in or­der to ig­nore it.

Liv­ing in Penn­syl­va­nia could be­come more dif­fi­cult soon.

On Jan. 30, 2017, a Penn­syl­va­nia driver’s li­cense won’t be a good enough iden­ti­fi­ca­tion to be al­lowed onto a mil­i­tary base, into a fed­eral fa­cil­ity or into a nu­clear power plant.

A year later, that driver’s li­cense won’t be suf­fi­cient ID to be al­lowed to board a plane.

Penn­syl­va­nia and seven other states have known this day was com­ing since 2005, when Congress passed the Real ID Act, which de­vel­oped tougher stan­dards for state driver’s li­censes and ID cards af­ter the 9-11 hi­jack­ers re­ceived valid iden­ti­fi­ca­tion from sev­eral states.

Among the re­quire­ments that eight states have failed to meet are doc­u­men­ta­tion such as So­cial Se­cu­rity num­bers, re­tain­ing copies or dig­i­tal images of ap­pli­ca­tions and source doc­u­ments, and in­clud­ing ap­proved se­cu­rity mark­ings on driver’s li­censes, ac­cord­ing to The As­so­ci­ated Press.

Pen­nDOT says it would take 18 to 24 months to get up to speed and ful­fill the re­quire­ments so Penn­syl­va­nia res­i­dents could re­sume us­ing their driver’s li­censes as their nec­es­sary ID.

But Pen­nDOT is stuck be­tween the state Leg­is­la­ture and the fed­eral gov­ern­ment.

In 2012, the Leg­is­la­ture de­cided Penn­syl­va­nia wasn’t go­ing to com­ply with the Real ID Act. In fact, they were so dead set against it, the leg­is­la­tors passed Act 38, the Real ID Non­par­tic­i­pa­tion Act, mak­ing it il­le­gal for the gover­nor, Pen­nDOT or any other state agency to par­tic­i­pate in the Real ID Act of 2005 or the reg­u­la­tions it pro­duced.

Take that, U.S. gov­ern­ment. We’re not go­ing to par­tic­i­pate in your pro­gram to reg­u­late what pa­per­work peo­ple will need to turn in to get a le­gal ID.

In 2012, the ACLU hailed Act 38 as pro­tect­ing pri­vacy.

“Real ID is a de facto na­tional ID card and is a dis­as­ter for the pri­vacy rights of all Penn­syl­va­ni­ans,” said Reg­gie Shu­ford, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the ACLU of Penn­syl­va­nia, ac­cord­ing to aclupa.org.

The or­ga­ni­za­tion also said it would cost Pen­nDOT $100 mil­lion to im­ple­ment Real ID and $40 mil­lion an­nu­ally to main­tain the data.

Be­sides, many groups said, most states aren’t com­ply­ing with the reg­u­la­tions any­way. The De­part­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity has been hand­ing out ex­ten­sions for more than a decade as states drag their feet on meet­ing the re­quire­ments. Why would the feds start to crack down?

That line of think­ing worked un­til last week, when the DHS re­jected re­quests from Penn­syl­va­nia, Ok­la­homa, Ken­tucky, Maine and South Carolina for an­other ex­ten­sion. Min­nesota, Mis­souri and Wash­ing­ton state had al­ready been no­ti­fied that they were out of com­pli­ance with the law.

And now the res­i­dents of Penn­syl­va­nia are star­ing at a dead­line the state says it can’t make.

We un­der­stand that there are pri­vacy con­cerns, that folks worry that there will be a huge data­base some­where with ev­ery­one’s driv­ing records in it, that peo­ple are view­ing this as a na­tional iden­ti­fi­ca­tion card, that there will be huge lines if ev­ery­one has to have their pic­ture taken mul­ti­ple times when get­ting a li­cense. (Thanks to RealNight­mare.org for ideas on how badly this could go, by the way.)

But then there are those of us in the real world who would like to be able to go into a fed­eral fa­cil­ity if nec­es­sary, who might need to go to a mil­i­tary base some­time, who want to be able to fly from BWI to Orlando with­out hav­ing to get a pass­port in or­der to be al­lowed on the plane.

No, Real ID isn’t a so­lu­tion to ter­ror­ism. It might not be a so­lu­tion to any­thing at all. But it is the U.S. law, and Penn­syl­va­nia can’t put its col­lec­tive fin­gers in its ears and sing in or­der to ig­nore it.

Grow up, Leg­is­la­ture. Let Pen­nDOT do what it needs to do to al­low res­i­dents of the state to con­tinue on with their lives with­out un­due has­sle.

Real ID isn’t a so­lu­tion to ter­ror­ism. It might not be a so­lu­tion to any­thing at all. But it is the U.S. law, and Penn­syl­va­nia can’t put its col­lec­tive fin­gers in its ears and sing in or­der to ig­nore it.

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