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Federal law like ‘The Matrix,’ lawmaker says

Civil liberties advocates and security experts say implementing a federal act ordering states to standardize driver’s licenses would be unfeasible, violate the privacy of law-abiding Americans and cost billions of dollars, reports S-R reporter Parker Howell. Members of a four-person panel gathered in the Gold Room this afternoon and criticized the federal Real ID Act of 2005 – a requirement Rep. Phil Hart, R-Athol, called constitutionally questionable, an unfunded mandate and an attack on states’ rights. Hart introduced a joint resolution last week that would bar the Idaho Legislature from enforcing the act and ask the state’s Congressional delegation to oppose it.

“I’m particularly bothered by the privacy issues and the federal government mandating something on the states,” Hart said. The act aims to create a national database of identity information, add security features to IDs and make cards easily readable by machines by May 2008, Howell reports. Only upgraded licenses would be accepted for boarding an aircraft or entering certain federal buildings. It would cost $11 billion to implement over five years, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The Real ID mandate has created strange bedfellows, Howell reports. Today’s panel included representatives from the Cato Institute, a libertarian think-tank, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Idaho Department of Homeland Security. “I don’t think it’s necessary for us, in order to win the war on terror, to become like those we fight,” said Bill Bishop, director of the Idaho Bureau of Homeland Security. Bishop said Congress passed the act “extremely hastily” as a silver bullet to dealing with terrorism. Hart compared the law to something from the 1999 science-fiction blockbuster “The Matrix.” Read Howell’s full story here.


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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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