HARRISBURG- For the second time in just over a year, the Pennsylvania Senate today unanimously passed legislation that would make Pennsylvania the 16th state to opt out of the federal Real ID Act. The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania applauded the Senate, especially Senator Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon), the primary sponsor of the bill, for continuing to pursue the issue, six years after Real ID was signed into law.
"Real ID will be a real nightmare for states and for all license holders," said Andy Hoover, legislative director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania. "By turning our drivers' licenses into national ID cards, Real ID threatens the privacy and constitutional rights of everyone, and it comes with a heavy financial burden. The Senate did the right thing today."
Real ID forces new mandates on the states in issuing drivers' licenses, including a digital photo requirement, a mandate to store multiple identifying documents at the department of transportation, and the linking of the databases of all departments of motor vehicles around the country. Fifteen states have already blocked the implementation of Real ID via statute while some states, including Pennsylvania, have protested it by passing non-binding resolutions.
"Real ID is on its death bed," Hoover said. "Without state participation, the program can't function. Pennsylvania has an opportunity to kill off Real ID for good by passing SB 354."
PennDOT has estimated that implementing Real ID will cost more than $100 million, with annual costs of $40-$50 million to maintain it.
"Inevitably, those costs will be passed on to license holders," Hoover said.
SB 354 now heads to the state House for consideration. In 2008, the House passed similar legislation, but the session ended before the Senate had a chance to consider it. Last year, the Senate passed a bill to block Real ID, but again the session ended before it could be passed by the House.
"Hopefully, this is the session when the legislature puts Real ID to bed," Hoover said.