DHS Extends Real ID Implementation Deadline, Reestablishes Rulemaking Committee

WASHINGTON – The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announces its proposed rules for Real ID, which include an agreement it made with Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) to give states more time to implement the new regulations. DHS also agreed to reestablish a rulemaking committee that Senator Collins’ had originally created in order to allow states and other interested parties to have a formal role in the rulemaking process.

Senator Collins introduced an amendment in Senate calling for a two-year extension after final regulations were finalized to the deadline by which states would need to comply with Real ID. As a result of negotiations, DHS agreed to allow states to request a deadline extension through Dec. 31, 2009, by stating that DHS’s delay in promulgating final regulations has not allowed states enough time to consider the final rule. This agreement addresses one of the major problems that state leaders, the National Governors Association and the National Conference of State Legislatures had identified with the Real ID Act. Without the delay, states would have been required to be in full compliance by May 2008, even though DHS had yet to issue the regulations giving states detailed guidance on how to comply with law.

“If a state comes to us and says, look, we’ve got a plan, we’re moving forward, but we’re going to need more time, we will grant that extension,” commented DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff. “The idea here is not to set an impossible bar, it is to set an ambitious but realistic time line so we get the job done properly but also so that we avoid simply kicking the can down the road indefinitely.”

The amendment also called for the negotiated-rulemaking committee, created under the Collins-Lieberman Intelligence Reform Act of 2004, to be reconvened to provide comment to DHS on the proposed regulations. This committee was to be composed of federal officials, state officials (including Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap) and representatives from other interested parties who were working to create standards that would provide secure identification without unduly burdening states and without threatening fundamental privacy protections. DHS agreed that it will invite the members of the negotiated-rulemaking committee to provide oral comments on the proposed regulation.

Following this latest announcement, Senator Collins withdrew her amendment. She called the agreement “major progress,” but also pledged to continue to work to help states with the cost of complying with the new law.

To date, Congress has appropriated approximately $40 million to help states comply with the Real ID Act. The National Governors Association estimates the five-year cost for states to comply with the law is $11 billion.

The Real ID Act requires Washington to work with individual states to create new standards to secure driver’s licenses. The act aims to make it harder for dangerous people to obtain licenses fraudulently and to make it easier for law enforcement and counterterrorism authorities to detect documents that have been falsified. In doing so, law enforcement and counterterrorism officials possess a critical new tool to prevent terrorism and to protect the U.S.

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