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New Hampshire Legislators Say No to Real ID Program

Governor set to sign bill that rejects state's compliance with federal law

By Marc L. Songini
June 4, 2007 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - New Hampshire is poised to become the latest of a handful of states to enact a law banning implementation of the federal national identification act.

The Real ID bill, whose evolving guidelines were last updated in March by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), was passed by Congress in 2005 with a May 2008 deadline for compliance. The deadline can be extended on a case-by-case basis until December 2009 with DHS approval.

About a dozen states, including Maine, Hawaii and Idaho, have so far passed legislation opposing the federal law, said a spokesman for the American Civil Liberties Union in Washington.

The concerns are all similar, he said. They are based on privacy, cost and convenience.

As it stands, the Real ID law would require that all state drivers licenses and other identification cards include a digital photograph and a bar code that can be scanned by electronic readers.

Cards that comply with the law would be required for people entering federal buildings and nuclear power plants and boarding commercial airplanes, according to the DHS.

The New Hampshire bill, which labeled the Real ID Act as contrary and repugnant to the New Hampshire and U.S. Constitutions, was passed in the state Senate by a 24-0 vote in late May.

The New Hampshire House of Representatives had passed the law by a 268-8 vote in April.

New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch plans to sign the bill, though no timetable has been set, said his spokesman.

In a statement last month, Lynch applauded the vote by legislators. I continue to have many concerns about Real ID, including the cost, the impact on the privacy of our citizens and the burden it will place on state government employees, Lynch said.

During debate on the bill, legislators in both the New Hampshire House and Senate raised several objections to the Real ID law, including the cost of its implementation and its potential to violate the privacy rights of individuals.

The state Senate doesnt believe the Real ID program was properly thought out by the feds, said Sen. Peter Burling (D-Corning), a sponsor of the bill.

State Forfeits $3M

Lynchs spokesman noted that with passage of the bill, New Hampshire will forfeit a $3 million federal grant to implement Real ID.

That $3 million bribe was tempting, noted Burling. However, he projected that the cost of implementing the law would be far more than $3 million and perhaps as much as $10 million. He noted that the state would be responsible for purchasing technology to meet the requirements of the law and for storing copies of any additional documents that cardholders must provide under Real ID.

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