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MONDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 2005
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EDITORIAL

Federal driver license bill asks too much of states

It is hoped Gov. Bob Riley and the Legislature will join with other states to fight a bill that would tighten standards for

driver licenses issued nationwide.

President Bush has thrown his backing to this bill that would not only increase dramatically the costs of issuing a

driver license, but perhaps more importantly, would make driver license office employees double as unpaid immigration agents.

The bill has also raised the ire of privacy advocates. They see this step as another move toward turning driver licenses into national identification cards.

If Mr. Bush has his way, the Real ID Act of 2005 would do much more than keep would-be terrorists from obtaining valid driver licenses.

It would require state motor-vehicle offices to impose federal security standards for state office buildings where driver licenses and related records are produced or stored. The measure also would require setting up security clearances for state personnel so they could use federal data banks to determine an applicant's legal home and immigration status.

That's far too much to ask of states, cities and counties already struggling to meet current budget requirements.

The bill isn't needed because most states are already working with the guidelines from the 9/11 Commission to reform how they issue driver licenses and birth certificates.

Money to bring this bill into fruition would be better spend beefing up national intelligence agencies and demanding that information about possible terrorist activities be shared among these agencies.

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