Pennsylvania could become the 16th and largest state to enact a law that blocks implementation of the federal REAL ID Act. “We believe that state resistance will lead to the demise of REAL ID, and that’s why it’s important for SB 354 to pass,” says ACLU of PA legislative director Andy Hoover. He’s talking about a bill that has now earned unanimous approve in the state Senate.
The federal REAL ID Act, if fully implemented, would place requirements on state driver’s licenses that critics say would essentially make them national ID cards. It would also link all DMV databases across the country, potentially placing Americans’ personal information at risk. “I believe it’s just one more encroachment on our individual liberty and freedom, which are slowly being taken from us in a very subtle way,” says Senator Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon), the bill’s prime sponsor.
There are also financial concerns, as PennDOT estimates it will cost more than $100-million dollars to implement REAL ID. “It’s one more mandate coming down from the federal government… and we all have our own economic scenarios going on as it is,” Folmer tells Radio PA.
This has been a lingering issue under the state capitol dome. The House passed an opt-out bill in 2008; the Senate passed one in 2010, but time ran out on both efforts. “We’re hopeful this is the session we finally put REAL ID to bed,” Hoover says. Folmer’s legislation passed the Senate 50 – 0, and is now awaiting action in the House State Government Committee.