Thursday, February 27, 2014

Seeking Answers as to the Delay of REAL ID

Today I distributed the follow press release regarding Massachusetts not yet complying with the Federal REAL ID Act of 2005:

Tarr Leads Coalition of Legislators Seeking Answers as to the Delay of REAL ID
Federal Act Could Have Real Consequences if MA Does Not Comply in Immediate Future

Boston- Today Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester) and a coalition of 31 legislators sent a letter to Governor Deval Patrick seeking answers as to why the Massachusetts Department of Transportation has yet to comply with the Federal REAL ID Act of 2005.  The act, which codifies the standards of state licenses and IDs, was passed following a recommendation by the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (“9/11 Commission”).

            In their letter, the coalition of legislators wrote “Aside from the fact that the REAL ID Act is a federal law, the REAL ID standards themselves represent important elements for driver’s license security.”  The legislators further wrote “…our state may be magnetized for criminals and others to fraudulently obtain valid Massachusetts driver’s licenses and identification cards under assumed or fictitious identities.”

            If Massachusetts does not join the majority of states in moving towards compliancy, citizens of the Commonwealth could be severely impacted.  An announcement made by the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on December 20, 2013 listed Massachusetts among a small list of states that remain noncompliant with the federal law, and in that announcement the DHS provided a schedule of four successive enforcement phases.  Those phases include:

  • The restriction of Department of Homeland Security Headquarters on April 21, 2014;
  • The restriction of some federal facilities and nuclear power plants on July 21, 2014;
  • The semi-restriction of the remaining Federal facilities on January 19, 2015; and
  • The restriction of federally regulated aircraft transportation no sooner than January 2016.

Seeking to sufficiently clarify the reasons Massachusetts has yet to comply, the legislators ask in their letter to Governor Patrick “Has the RMV opted to move forward with the further actions necessary to bring the Commonwealth into compliance with the Real ID Act, and, if not why is Massachusetts not moving forward?”

On March 5, 2013 the Senate Republican Caucus sent a letter to Governor Patrick seeking information as to Massachusetts’ progress in complying with the federal act.  Unfortunately, at that time, the caucus did not receive a formal response regarding the Commonwealth’s status.

“We need to work together to take the necessary actions to deal effectively with this important issue for homeland security and public safety,” wrote the legislators in their February 27th letter.