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Granholm, Land offer Michigan perspective on new federal driver license, ID card requirements

Governor Jennifer M. Granholm and Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land last week urged federal homeland security officials to take Michigan’s comments into account when finalizing rules that will guide the new federal REAL ID Act of 2005 requirements that call for states to modify the content of driver licenses and identification cards and the processes used to issue the documents.

Granholm and Land co-submitted the statements in response to a request for Michigan ’s comments to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which must consider the comments of states and other stakeholders to ensure REAL ID meets its national security goals.  

In a joint letter to DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff, Granholm and Land said that Michigan maintains a solid commitment to protect citizens and is preparing to comply with REAL ID requirements.  However, they said those requirements can only be an effective homeland security tool if all states fully implement the law.  They noted that some states have acted to limit or reject REAL ID due to concerns about policy goals and the resources available to assist with implementation. 

“DHS must take seriously the states’ positions that the process of revamping the standards for identification documents is a federal mandate that should be backed by federal funding,” they said in a joint letter to Chertoff.  According to a study released last year by the National Governors Association, the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, and the National Conference of State Legislatures, states’ costs could total more than $11 billion over ten years.  A federal cost estimate issued this year by DHS pegged cumulative states’ costs at more than $14 billion.

Granholm and Land are particularly interested in avoiding duplication of services and imposing unnecessary requirements for citizens who have been issued driver licenses and ID cards for many years. 

Among the specific modifications they are calling for are that federal database systems be available to states at no cost so states can comply with new identity verification procedures, that people age 62 and older be exempt from having to produce a birth certificate to receive or renew a driver license, and that each state be allowed to personalize their card to prevent counterfeiting.

Governor Granholm and Secretary Land noted that Michigan intends to pursue driver licenses that meet new federal passport requirements.  Offering this dual-purpose card will require a sustained and focused state-federal partnership to develop federal identification rules. 

The federal REAL ID Act establishes national standards for issuing state driver licenses and identification cards, requiring states to re-issue driver licenses and identification cards to 245 million current holders by 2013, establish on-site identification verification procedures at Secretary of State offices, and meet specific security and production requirements for the new cards.






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