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Maine legislature refuses to enforce federal Real ID Act

[JURIST] Both the Maine House of Representatives and Senate approved a joint resolution [DOC text; SP 113 summary] Thursday refusing to implement the federal Real ID Act [PDF text; JURIST news archive]. The resolution had broad support across both parties, with the House of Representatives approving the resolution 137-4 and the Senate 34-0. The federal act, scheduled to take effect in 2008, mandates that state governments require birth certificates or similar documentation and also consult national immigration databases before issuing IDs, which will have to comply with standards established by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) [official website]. The Real ID Act is facing similar state legislative oppositions in Georgia, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Montana, New Hampshire, and Washington. The Bush administration has repeatedly endorses the act [JURIST report], saying that it will discourage illegal immigration and make it more difficult for terrorists to fraudulently obtain US driver's licenses and other government IDs.

State lawmakers, governors, and privacy advocates have expressed concerns [JURIST report] about implementing the federal law, with many objecting to the expensive undertaking required for state compliance and privacy concerns [ACLU backgrounder] associated with the federal requirements. In December 2005, the National Governor's Association [official website], the National Conference of State Legislatures [official website], and the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators [official website], collectively released a report [text, PDF] concluding that states are unprepared to implement the law and may need up to eight years to acquire the resources and time to successfully enact the legislation. CNET News has more.

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