Minnesota Rejects Real ID Act Of 2005

May 18, 2009 12:00 am


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23 States Push Back Against Unfunded Mandate To Create National ID

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WASHINGTON — Minnesota Governor Timothy Pawlenty signed legislation on Saturday that prohibits his administration from turning the state driver’s license into a national identity card and from imposing new burdens on taxpayers, citizens, immigrants and state government. The state legislature overwhelmingly endorsed the bill with a unanimous House vote and a 64-1 vote in the Senate. Minnesota becomes the 23rd state to reject the Real ID Act of 2005, raising the question of why Congress has not repealed the law.

“23 states have now sent a clear message to Washington that they will not submit to wrongheaded federal mandates that waste state tax dollars and put privacy at risk,” said Christopher Calabrese, Counsel of the ACLU Technology & Liberty Program. “Congress should take notice and repeal the Real ID Act so that effective driver’s license security policy can be developed.”

As part of creating a national identification card, the Real ID Act of 2005 also mandates that states hold all Americans’ private information in a single database that is accessible to federal and state officials — the cost and security of which is unknown. Consequently, the National Governors Association and the National Conference of State Legislatures have expressed strong opposition to the Real ID Act.

Since its enactment — as evident by the rejection of 23 states — Real ID has faced significant resistance on the state level. During her January confirmation hearing, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano called for a review of Real ID, saying the states were not consulted enough in its creation and that the initiative is a fiscal burden on the states. Before heading up DHS, Napolitano was Governor of Arizona, where she enacted legislation prohibiting her state from complying with the requirements of Real ID.

Because Real IDs require significantly more background information than a driver’s license, privacy experts fear that the government will now have access to an unprecedented amount of highly sensitive information about citizens and that there will be an exponential rise in identity theft from the database where the information is stored.

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