AUGUSTA, Maine — Two Maine legislators sent a letter to President Donald Trump on Thursday asking him to repeal parts of a federal identification program that have spurred privacy concerns and policy headaches over the state’s non-compliance with the law.
It’s supported by Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap, who has been leading the fight to preserve a 2007 law that bars the state from complying with the federal REAL ID Act. In January, the federal government stopped accepting Maine driver’s licenses at certain facilities.
The plea to Trump from two libertarian-leaning state senators — Eric Brakey, R-Auburn, and Shenna Bellows, D-Manchester — is effectively emerging as a rival plan to a bill from Sen. Bill Diamond, D-Windham, which would make Maine comply with the federal law.
Maine has implemented many REAL ID provisions, but it’s one of five states in non-compliance, having balked at controversial data warehousing requirements in the law, such as using facial recognition software in the Bureau of Motor Vehicles and fingerprinting bureau employees.
Brakey and Bellows want Trump to repeal those types of provision with an executive order, with the letter asking Trump to take “quick action” to “to preserve the safety and liberty of all Americans” from the “impending security and privacy disaster” that is REAL ID’s final stages.
It called the barring of entry to federal facilities “the worst kind of blackmail.” Maine’s position will be worse in January 2018, when licenses won’t be accepted by airlines for boarding domestic flights, although passports or passport cards will be valid.
Dunlap, a Democrat, said Maine would be in compliance with the law if Trump took that action, although he said he didn’t know the Republican president’s stance on the issue.
“Once you start complying, you don’t know what the purposes will then be designated for or what additional requirements may come down the road,” he said.
The Legislature has given initial approval to a bill from Assistant House Majority Leader Jared Golden, D-Lewiston, that would fund passport cards for veterans who get health care at Pease Air Force Base in New Hampshire, but it awaits funding before final passage. Diamond’s bill will be considered by the Legislature’s Transportation Committee on Thursday.