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Midcoast senators vote to submit to federal ID law

By Stephen Betts | Apr 06, 2017

Augusta — The Maine Senate voted Thursday to repeal a 10-year-old state law that prohibited the state from participating in the federal Real ID Act of 2005.

The vote was 31-4 for LD 306, which also directs the Maine Secretary of State to conform the application procedure for driver's licenses and state identifications to the federal law.

All three Midcoast state senators -- David Miramant, D-Camden; Dana Dow, R-Waldoboro; and Michael Thibodeau, R-Winterport -- voted for the bill.

According to a Portland Press Herald story, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security said in a letter to state officials last year that if the state is still out of compliance by 2018, Maine travelers will have to provide an alternative form of identification to board a commercial airline flight.

The federal agency said it won’t grant Maine any more extensions to comply with the law, which requires digital photos on licenses, identifications that can be used with facial recognition software, and a database maintained by the state and accessible to federal authorities that includes personal information on residents.

The federal law also calls for Homeland Security-approved security markings on licenses and identifications and requires the state to collect fingerprints and conduct criminal background checks on state workers involved with issuing licenses or IDs.

Maine is one of five states that Homeland Security has deemed non-compliant and have not been granted extensions. The others are Kentucky, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and South Carolina.

Information provided to the Legislature's Transportation Committee included a statement from Timothy Doyle, vice president of the Maine Motor Transport Association. Doyle said truckers are reporting that beginning in January they were being turned away from military and other federal facilities if their only identification was a Maine driver's license.

State Sen. Shenna Bellows, D-Manchester, spoke against repealing the 2007 law approved by the Maine Legislature to prohibit the state from complying with the 2005 federal law.

Bellows said it would be madness for the state to spend millions of taxpayer dollars to maintain personal information for 10 years for people who apply for licenses. She said this would create a treasure trove for people looking to steal identifications.

Bellows also said Maine has a proud tradition of protecting the right to privacy. She said California received a federal extension until 2020 to comply with the law. She urged the state to ask for a similar extension.

The House has yet to vote on LD 306.

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Comments (1)
Posted by: Stephen K Carroll | Apr 07, 2017 07:26

Be aware big Brother is watching

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