September 22, 2019
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Feds give Maine a new waiver from Real ID compliance

Gabor Degre | BDN
Gabor Degre | BDN
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has granted Maine a waiver from enforcement of the Real ID Act until next October as the state moves to become compliant with the law’s requirements.

The federal government has approved Maine’s request to renew a waiver from compliance with a decade-old law regulating state-issued identification.

The waiver, granted on Oct. 18, gives Maine a reprieve from complying with Real ID standards until Oct. 10, 2018, according to the Maine secretary of state’s office.

Last week, the Department of Homeland Security extended to Maine a grace period until Jan. 22, 2018, from compliance after the state’s previous waiver expired on Oct. 10.

With the waiver in hand, Maine driver’s licenses will continue to be accepted as valid identification for entrance into certain federal facilities, such as military bases, the U.S. mint and nuclear power plants.

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.

Paul Bradbury, director of the Portland International Jetport, said in a statement that he is pleased to see Maine receive the waiver from Homeland Security. “This is critical to Maine citizens being able to access the air transportation system,” he said.

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 attacks.

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.”

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 Dunlap’s office until July 1, 2019, to meet the requirements of Real ID.



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