Maine Senate backs bill to implement Real ID compliance

Posted April 06, 2017, at 5:17 p.m.
Last modified April 07, 2017, at 7:40 a.m.

AUGUSTA, Maine – The Maine Senate has voted 31-4 on Thursday to endorse a bill that will make Maine comply with the federal Real ID law.

The bill is designed to make Maine drivers’ licenses align with the federal identification law, which was passed after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and established minimum security standards for state-issued identification cards.

Maine has resisted complying with the law because of cost, constitutionality and privacy concerns. It will cost the state nearly $4 million over the next few years to comply with Real ID. And Democratic Sen. Shenna Bellows said compliance with the law will make Mainers vulnerable to identity theft.

“From my perspective it is madness to spend millions of taxpayer dollars to set up what will be a treasure trove for identity thieves,” she said.

But the bill’s sponsor, Democratic Sen. Bill Diamond, said the state’s resistance to compliance has come at a price that will, next year, prevent Maine drivers’ license holders from boarding passenger flights or entering federal buildings.

“If we want to see disruption and chaos back home knowing full well the deadline was before us, then we will see that and we all will hear that. And we should,” he said.

The bill approved by the Senate will allow existing drivers’ licenses to be accepted until they expire. New licenses with enhanced security features will be issued after that.

The bill now moves to the House for additional votes. In vetoing a bill that would have helped Maine veterans overcome Real ID hurdles to receiving medical care in other states, Republican Gov. Paul LePage expressed support for Diamond’s bill.

This article appears through a media partnership with Maine Public.

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