Governor pens "no Real ID" bill
PHOENIX - Arizona became the latest state Tuesday to refuse to go along with the federal government's Real ID Act, a move the U.S. Department of Homeland Security said will have "real consequences'' for state residents.
The legislation signed by Gov. Janet Napolitano makes it illegal for her or her agency employees to implement the 2005 federal law. That law requires states to adopt new procedures for issuing driver licenses as well as making the documents themselves more secure.
Backers of the legislation said their main fear is that the new
licenses - and the linked databases that would be required - essentially will create a national ID card.
But Napolitano said her primary concern is that Congress, which imposed the mandate, has yet to cover the costs to the states.
"My support of the Real ID Act is, and has always been, contingent upon adequate federal funding," the governor said. "Absent that, the Real ID Act becomes just another unfunded federal mandate."
Laura Keehner, press secretary to the Department of Homeland Security, acknowledged the money already being provided and in the pipeline will not be enough to cover the cost, estimated at an extra $8 for each driver license. But she said the state and its residents will benefit in having a more secure document.
Keehner said if Arizona - and the 13 other states that have taken similar action - do not reverse course, it will be the residents who will suffer when the law takes effect as scheduled in 2010.
Potentially most sweeping, she said the law will forbid people from boarding commercial airlines without identification recognized by her agency.
Keehner said a passport would qualify, as would a military identification card. But she said those who lack either one would no longer be able to use their state driver's license.
The same rules will apply for anyone who wants to enter a federal building.