PHOENIX – Gov. Janet Napolitano signed a bill Tuesday making Arizona the latest state to refuse to implement new “Real ID” security standards mandated by the federal government for driver’s licenses.
Napolitano said she signed the bill into law because a lack of adequate federal funding makes Real ID “just another unfunded federal mandate.”
“My support of the Real ID Act is, and has always been contingent upon adequate federal funding,” Napolitano said in a rare signing letter.
However, the Arizona measure overwhelmingly approved by the Republican-led Legislature has no immediate impact because Arizona has already received a federal extension on Real ID compliance to 2009.
A National Conference of State Legislatures databank on Real ID legislation indicated that at least 12 other states have approved legislation to bar implementation of Real ID.
States listed as rejecting Real ID, some with conditions, include Alaska, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Maine, Michigan, Montana, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Washington.
Like Napolitano, other states’ leaders have voiced concerned about a lack of funding to implement Real ID. And some critics, including the American Civil Liberties Union, have voiced privacy concerns.
The Bush administration says Real ID’s requirement for more secure identification will hinder terrorists and illegal immigrants.
Under Real ID, states would have to bring their driver’s licenses under a national standard and link their license record-keeping systems.
Implementation of Real ID would require the public to show need Real ID-compliant driver’s licenses or other identification in order to enter federal buildings or board airplanes.
Napolitano said she still wants the Arizona Legislature to authorize a proposed “3-in-1″ enhanced driver’s license program. Authorization legislation was introduced but not heard during the current session, which is now in its final weeks.
Under an agreement negotiated by Napolitano and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for the 3-in-1 license, Arizona would develop an optional, alternative license with enhanced security features that could also be used to cross borders and verify employment eligibility.
Now, without adequate federal funding that would make Real ID “practicable,” the 3-in-1 proposal “must proceed on its own,” Napolitano said.
The prohibition bill’s sponsor, Republican Rep. Judy Burgess of Skull Valley, hailed Napolitano’s signing of the bill but said she would “absolutely not” support authorization of the governor’s proposed 3-in-1 license.
The 3-in-1 license also raises concerns about loss of privacy, identity theft and unfunded mandates, Burgess said.
Burgess acknowledged the state still faces a federal mandate. “We will have to deal with it as it comes up, but for right now, I think we did the right thing.”
ON THE WEB
Arizona Legislature: azleg.gov
Gov. Janet Napolitano: governor.state.az.us/
U.S. Department of Homeland Security: dhs.gov/index.shtm
National Conference of State Legislatures: ncsl.org/