Legislators protest Real ID requirements | NevadaAppeal.com

Legislators protest Real ID requirements

Nevada lawmakers from both sides of the aisle agreed Tuesday the Real ID requirements in federal law are an unfair burden on states and their residents.

“I think there’s a sentiment across the country that this is an unfunded mandate,” said Senate Minority Leader Dina Titus, D-Las Vegas. “Do we build highways or give everybody a Real ID card?”

Sen. Dennis Nolan, R-Las Vegas, said Nevada intends to join “a chorus of states” asking Congress to repeal the law.

“I don’t think Congress really contemplated the cost and inconvenience to the citizens of this country,” he said. “They need to take it back and develop something we can work with.”

The law would require that, beginning in 2008, every person seeking to renew or get a driver’s license provide proof of who they are, such as a birth certificate and Social Security card and prove that they are lawfully within the U.S. That means even longtime residents would have to physically go to a DMV office and present documentation identifying themselves.

Sen. Bob Beers, R-Las Vegas, said the problem is made worse in Nevada because the funding for Real ID – estimated by DMV at $30 million over the next two years alone – would come out of funds dedicated to road construction “which are incredibly precious now.”

He also expressed concern that the “government can have too much information on our citizens.”

That concern was echoed by Assembly Ways and Means Chairman Morse Arberry, D-Las Vegas: “I don’t like the idea that we’re invading everyone’s privacy.”

“It sounds good but it would create havoc for everybody in the country,” Arberry said.

“In 30 years with federal agencies, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything more totally screwed up,” said Assemblyman Joe Hogan, D-Las Vegas, a member of Ways and Means, which is considering the DMV budget.

Nolan, whose Transportation/Homeland Security Committee will debate the Real ID issue in the Senate, said he isn’t sure the act will accomplish its intended goals anyway.

“The reality is illegal aliens aren’t going to line up for this process,” he said. “Terrorists aren’t either.”

Beers also questioned whether Real ID would do what Congress hoped.

“I do not get the sense this will make us safer,” he said.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Raggio, R-Reno, said there may be value in Real ID but that states can’t support the burden. He said if Congress wants to keep the law in place, they should fund it.

Nevada DMV Director Ginny Lewis told a Senate Finance, Assembly Ways and Means subcommittee Tuesday they will have to add some $30 million to her budget to handle the requirements of Real ID over the next two years and that it will cost more than $60 million altogether.

Nolan said Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, has introduced a bill in Congress to delay implementation of the Real ID Act and give Homeland Security the ability to change some of the requirements in the act. He said more and more states are making their delegations aware of the burdens Real ID places on them.

• Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at gdornan@nevadaappeal.com.