February 19, 2018
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Feds grant Maine relief as state moves to comply with Real ID

Gabor Degre | BDN
Gabor Degre | BDN
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has granted Maine a reprieve from enforcement of the Real ID Act until next January as the state moves to become compliant with the law’s requirements.
By Christopher Burns, BDN Staff
Updated:

The federal government has given Maine more time to bring itself into compliance with a decade-old law regulating state-issued identification.

The Maine secretary of state’s office said Tuesday evening that the Department of Homeland Security won’t penalize the state for its noncompliance with Real ID standards until Jan. 22, 2018.

That means Maine driver’s licenses will be accepted for now as valid identification for boarding domestic flights and entrance into certain federal facilities, such as military bases, the U.S. mint and nuclear power plants.

Maine is among 24 states, plus the five U.S. territories, that are not compliant with the federal Real ID Act, but have been granted additional time to comply with the law, according to Homeland Security.

Real ID emerged in 2005 among a slew of legislation to address national security concerns after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and it was one of the key recommendations in the 9/11 Commission Report.

The Real ID Act set national standards to improve the security of state-issued identification to prevent undocumented immigrants and terrorists from obtaining U.S. driver’s licenses. Several of the 9/11 hijackers had obtained state-issued driver’s licenses in the months leading up to the attack.

But many states balked at what they saw as federal overreach. And the Maine Legislature in 2007 passed a law prohibiting the state from complying with Real ID amid concerns that it would create a de facto “internal passport.”

After pushback from Homeland Security last October, the Legislature in April passed a bill — LD 306 — to grant Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap the authority to bring the state into compliance.

That law gives the Maine secretary of state’s office until July 1, 2019, to meet the requirements of Real ID, according to Kristen Muszynski, a spokeswoman for Dunlap.

The federal government in January stopped permitting access to secure federal facilities to visitors without Real ID compliant identification unless their state received a temporary waiver from compliance. Starting Jan. 22, 2018, travelers who want to board domestic flights need to present a compliant identification or an accepted alternative, such as a U.S. passport or passport card.

“The State of Maine, however, expects to have a valid waiver at that time,” Muszynski said.

States can continue to request waivers from compliance until 2020.


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