WASHINGTON, Mar. 6, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/--
Members of the Massachusetts State Senate delivered a letter to Governor Deval Patrick urging Massachusetts’s compliance with the federal REAL ID Act. This came after the Coalition for a Secure Driver’s License (CSDL) filed a Public Records Request with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) regarding the state’s low level of compliance with the federal regulations.
Enacted in 2005, the REAL ID Act required the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to establish standards for state issued driver’s licenses that would be used for “official purposes,” such as boarding a commercial airplane. The Act was based on a recommendation by the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States (9/11 Commission) which stated that, “[T]he federal government should set standards for the issuance of birth certificates and sources of identification, such as driver’s licenses.” DHS published the REAL ID standards in January 2008.
State Senators Bruce Tarr, Robert Hedlund, Michael Knapik, and Richard Ross urged “immediate action” to remedy their concern that falling behind on compliance with the law has made “Massachussetts a magnet state for criminals and others seeking to fraudulently obtain driver’s licenses under assumed or fictitious identities.”
The Senators also expressed concern that Massachusetts will be “one of few states whose permissive driver’s license practices may bar residents from boarding airplanes.”
Since the final rule of the REAL ID Act, most other states have made significant progress toward securing their identification documents. A progress report released by DHS in August of last year stated that, “all states meet or commit to meet 83 percent of the material compliance benchmarks, which DHS believes may understate state progress.” However, according to documents received through the Public Records Request by CSDL, Massachusetts has made little progress since 2009 in complying.
DHS has announced that 19 states are currently compliant with the REAL ID Act. While all states have received a “temporary deferment”, DHS plans to announce enforcement of the REAL ID Act in the fall. Brian Zimmer, President of CSDL stated, “Senator Tarr and his colleagues are right to be concerned. MassDOT is gambling with long odds that DHS will do nothing. Meanwhile, as more and more states move forward with compliance, Massachusetts will be left further and further behind.”
Rachel Kaprielian, the Registrar of Motor Vehicles, was also copied on the letter.