oregon aims to put real id on fast-track

oregon aims to put real id on fast-trackfrom news register: Across the United States, a diverse coalition of states, from left-leaning Massachusetts to right-leaning Arizona, Georgia and Wyoming, are rebelling against the Real ID Act. But Oregon isn’t one of them.

The 2005 federal law calls for national standardization of driver’s licenses by May 2008, effectively creating a national citizenship card. And in Oregon, lawmakers are intent on figuring out how to comply, not how to avoid complying.

On Thursday, citizens with strong feelings of all stripes packed two hearing rooms to sound off.

The issue was Senate Bill 424, sponsored by the Mount Hood Democrat who chairs the Senate Business, Transportation and Workforce Committee. After two hours of testimony, he assured the audience definitive action would be taken.

“We will be doing something,” Sen. Rick Metsger said. “If we did nothing, we’d have done something, because at this moment, the federal government is going to require us. If we don’t do it, then that is also an affirmative action that could be detrimental. Maybe some of us will get calls from 85-year old World War II veterans who want to know how come they can’t get on an airplane.”

If that prompts you to ask what boarding a plane has to do with a driver’s license, it’s because a license issued in accordance with the Real ID Act would, for all intents and purposes, function as a national identification card.

Whether that’s a proper name for it is itself a topic of debate. Rep. Linda Flores, a Clackamas County Republican who’s introduced her own version of implementing language in the House, said state compliance with the federal act would actually “eliminate the need” for a national ID card.

“It’s kind of in the eye of the beholder,” said Caroline Fredrickson of the American Civil Liberties Union’s head office in Washington, D.C. “This looks like a national ID card, it acts like one and it sounds like one. I don’t think there’s any question that it’s a national ID card.”