House rejects federal ID card program
Posted on Jan. 31
By SARAH COOKE of the Associated Press
HELENA - The House gave bipartisan support Wednesday to a pair of bills that would make Montana one of the first states in the country to say "no" to federally approved national identification cards.
The measures by Reps. Diane Rice, R-Harrison, and Brady Wiseman, D-Bozeman, are nearly identical. Rice's won unanimous tentative approval, while Wiseman's was endorsed on a 99-1 vote. Final votes are scheduled Thursday.
"We're asking Congress to recognize that they have made a mistake, and to undo it," Wiseman said. "The cards aren't secure, with no prevention for ID theft. They won't protect us from terrorism."
Both called the federal Real ID Act of 2005 an attempt by the federal government to usurp power from state governments, and said it threatened an individual's right to privacy, which is guaranteed by the Montana Constitution.
"When a federal law is clearly repugnant to our constitution, we have the authority to nullify it, and that's what we're doing here today," Rice said.
The Maine Legislature approved a resolution last week asking Congress to repeal the act, and similar measures are pending in other states.
The Real ID Act takes effect next year. It grew out of a recommendation by the 9/11 Commission to incorporate common security features into state driver's licenses to prevent tampering or counterfeiting. States will also be responsible for verifying the legitimacy of documents used to obtain a license, such as a birth certificates or green cards.
Without such federally approved licenses, people would not be allowed to board an airplane or enter a federal building.
States would also be responsible for funding the changes, which Wiseman said would cost Montana about $2.8 million.
Rice's bill is House Bill 384. Wiseman's bill is House Bill 287.