Thomas Frank, USA TODAY, June 18, 2007
Lawmakers in Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Washington say new standards would be expensive to implement and result in a national ID card that compromises privacy. The National Conference of State Legislatures estimates that it will cost states more than $11 billion.
State resistance has drawn criticism from the Homeland Security Department. “I cannot imagine a state official anywhere that would want to have to testify before Congress about … how their non-compliant licenses contributed to a terrorist attack,” department spokesman Russ Knocke said.
Knocke said the federal government can’t force states to comply. But he said each state’s residents are likely to bring pressure on their local governments when they learn they’ll be barred from boarding airplanes because their state’s licenses don’t meet federal standards.
Airline passengers can use other government photo identification, such as passports and military IDs.
“The people of New Hampshire are adamantly opposed to any kind of ‘papers-please’ society reminiscent of Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia,” said Neal Kurk, a Republican state representative from New Hampshire. “This is another effort of the federal government to keep track of all its citizens.”