March 13, 2007

The Northwest to Remain Free?

It will come as little surprise to regular readers that I am not a fan of the Real ID act, a law passed by congress mandating certain standards of identity verification for all state-issued IDs (including drivers' licenses), requiring states to share data collected in this process with the federal government, and requiring that one have such an ID in order to board planes, enter national parks, or enter federal courts (see also the ACLU's FAQ on the subject). The law orders states to come into compliance within three years or not have their IDs accepted by the federal government, and doesn't provide funding for the project. Maine has already resolved not to comply. Now 27B Stroke 6, a Wired blog, is reporting that the Idaho legislature has also passed a resolution against the act, and the Alaska DMV has been sued for appropriating state funds to begin preparations for compliance although the legislature has not authorized it to do so (apparently the state senate bill never got out of committee and the house bill is still under debate). According to another Wired story, Montana is also expected to pass a resolution against the Real ID Act. The Electronic Privacy Information Center also lists (scroll way down to the "Previous Top News" section) Georgia, Massachusetts, New Mexico and Washington as having resolutions against the act under debate in their state legislatures. The Northwest is only missing Oregon, and I haven't been able to find anything indicative of which direction they'll swing. Like Washington, they have mostly urban ACLU-type Democrats along the coast and rural libertarian-leaning Republicans on the other side of the mountains, the difference being that the Democrats are further left, but the urban areas don't outnumber the rural ones as badly (though Washington's elections often manage to come out closer anyway). Besides all this, everything is tied up with immigration issues in Oregon and they've got the leftist tendency to want to extend social programs (public schools, hospitals, welfare, etc.) to illegal immigrants no questions asked combined with the need for cheap farm labor, so it's not clear how badly they want to keep illegal immigrants out. On the other side, it is widely believed (though I haven't found any statistics on the subject) that illegal immigrants are responsible for much of the crime in Washington and Oregon (this may be partially just xenophobia, but it also makes sense to suppose that people who are willing to break immigration laws will be willing to break other laws). In many western states it is illegal for entities such as hospitals, public schools or DMVs to report illegal immigrants to the INS, but the Real ID act would require their information to be sent to the feds. So it's hard to tell which way this will swing. At any rate, the number of states, especially in the Northwest, registering strong opposition is encouraging. Unfortunately, Senator Maria Cantwell of Washington is bragging about having extended the compliance deadline in ways that seem to support compliance with the act (after the delay). Hmm...

Posted by Kenny at March 13, 2007 9:04 PM
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