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  Comments (3) Total Thursday Apr. 17, 2014
 
Daines Proposes Striking Part of REAL ID Law
Montana lawmakers passed a bill in 2007 banning compliance with REAL ID
HELENA — U.S. Rep. Steve Daines said Thursday he plans to introduce legislation that would strike the portion of a 2005 anti-terrorism law that sets national standards for driver's licenses and identification cards.

Two similar bills to gut that provision of the REAL ID Act failed to pass Congress in 2007. But Daines said in a news conference he believes his bill will receive support in the wake of heightened privacy concerns due to the revelations of surveillance programs run by the National Security Agency.

"I think there's a real appetite in Washington to push back against the abuse of powers in the federal government, and I think this is an example of a bill that pushes back on this overreach," Daines said.

The Montana Republican, who is a member of the House Committee on Homeland Security, said he plans to introduce the bill next week.

REAL ID set standards for licenses and identifications as a way to fight terrorism and prevent identity theft. Real ID-compliant driver's licenses would have layers of security, such as verification of birth certificates, Social Security numbers and immigration status.

Many states, including Montana, opposed it as being expensive and threatening the privacy of the cardholders. The Montana Legislature voted unanimously in 2007 to prohibit implementation of REAL ID in the state.

Daines and Montana Attorney General Tim Fox said Montana already has increased the security of its licenses and identifications, and they are concerned that complying with the law would lead to the federal government having increased access to private information.

"All the states in the U.S. have reacted to make sure their driver's licenses are more secure. This is state obligation. We do it better, and we do it without sacrificing the privacy and rights of our individual citizens," Fox said.

Regardless, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security sent Gov. Steve Bullock a letter in December that said Montana was among 15 states and two territories that were not compliant with the law and would be subject to the first phase of its enforcement.

That includes restricting access starting later this year to certain federal buildings that require identification, and possibly commercial flights after 2016, pending a review.

Bullock responded to DHS officials by saying he has full confidence in the security measures the state already has put in place for its licenses.

On Thursday, the Democratic governor said he was pleased to see Daines and Fox join him in the fight against REAL ID.

Montana's two Democratic U.S. senators also said they opposed the federal standards.

Jon Tester, who was a co-sponsor of the failed 2007 repeal bill, said he would support the measure if it reaches the Senate.

"REAL ID is not only expensive, it invades the privacy and constitutional freedoms of law-abiding Americans, and it's not right for Montana. National driver's license standards are just one part of this law I'd like to repeal," Tester said in a statement.

John Walsh, who is Daines' likely opponent in the general election for the seat Walsh was appointed to this week as interim senator, also denounced REAL ID without saying how he would vote.

"REAL ID is a classic example of government overreach that infringes on the privacy rights of Montanans. Montana already has safe driver's licenses, and we have no need for this type of federal standard," Walsh said.

Read Daines' bill here.
 
On 02-13-14, iceman commented....
I have a better idea, eliminate driver’s licenses all together. Anyone can drive.
 
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