OKLAHOMA CITY (Nov. 22, 2016) – A bill prefiled for the 2017 legislative session would repeal an Oklahoma law prohibiting implementation of the Real ID Act and set the state on a course to participate in an unconstitutional national identification system.
Sen. John Sparks (D-Norman) and Sen. Kay Floyd (D-Oklahoma City) prefiled Senate Bill 1 (SB1). The legislation would repeal Title 47. Motor Vehicles §47-6-110.3 – Prohibition of Implementation of Federal REAL ID Act.
Congress passed the REAL ID Act in 2005 and Pres. G.W. Bush signed it into law. The act essentially mandates a national ID system that relies on states to implement.
Under the act, all 50 states were supposed to comply with the federal law by 2008. But, states rebelled against REAL ID for several reasons, including privacy concerns and the fact that Congress didn’t provide any funding for the mandates it imposes on states. To date, 27 states, including Oklahoma, remain non-compliant, nullifying the national ID system in effect.
In November 2007, a law declaring Oklahoma “shall not participate in the implementation of the REAL ID Act of 2005” and “the Department of Public Safety is hereby directed not to implement the provisions of the REAL ID Act” went into effect. At the time, the legislature found that REAL ID “is inimical to the security and well-being of the people of Oklahoma.” It also determined that the federal requirements under REAL ID would cost $8 million to comply with, and that the act “was adopted by the United States Congress in violation of the principles of federalism contained in the Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.”
Those facts have not changed, but the federal government has ramped up bullying tactics in an effort to force reticent states into compliance. On Oct. 13, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) sent letters to five states, including Oklahoma, denying their request for a time extensions to bring their driver’s licenses in compliance with REAL ID. If the feds follow through on their threats, this means that in 2018, residents of Oklahoma may find themselves on a virtual no-fly list. They will need to have alternate ID, such as a passport, in order to clear TSA screening.
If SB1 passes, it will open the door for Oklahoma to move toward compliance with REAL ID.
But if history provides any indication, the feds will not follow through on their threats to punish non-compliant states. The federal government has played this game of brinkmanship for years, ultimately backing down and extending deadlines. It seems highly unlikely the feds will be willing to weather the political fallout the will result from keeping millions of Americans off commercial aircraft.
The Oklahoma legislature should refuse to back down, and it should emphatically reject SB1.
REAL ID creates huge administrative burdens for state governments, while providing only minimal federal funds for implementing its onerous requirements. At the same time, it does nothing to combat terrorism and puts Americans at greater risk for invasions of privacy and identity theft. REAL ID represents not just an unfunded mandate, but an unconstitutional expansion of federal power over something reserved to the states under the 10th Amendment.
SB1 will be officially introduced in the Oklahoma Senate on Feb. 6, 2017. At that time it will be assigned to a committee where it will have to pass by a majority vote before moving forward in the legislative process.
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