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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Feds Reject Montana's Request To Delay Real ID Implementation

Montana's most recent driver's license design incorporates changes for security and durability.
Montana DOJ
Montana's most recent driver's license design incorporates changes for security and durability.

The federal government this week rejected Montana’s request to further delay implementation of the Real ID Act.

Montana Attorney General Tim Fox once said the Real ID act threatened to create an Orwellian national ID system.

His spokesman, Eric Sell, predicts one of two options could play out now that the Department of Homeland Security has ruled Montana must comply with the law:

"It would take a fix by the legislature to change the law to allow the Department of Justice to modify driver’s licenses to come into compliance with the Real ID Act, or it would take an act of Congress to repeal or modify Real ID to allow Montana to come into compliance," Sell said.

Montana lawmakers in 2007 drew a hard line against Real ID, describing it as a federal overreach that put personal information at risk.

State attorney general spokesman, Eric Sell, says compliance with the law could prove to be expensive for Montana.

"It would require a significant amount of resources for the Department of Justice Motor Vehicle Division to create the database that would allow collection of this information to come into compliance with Real ID requirements," Sell said.

Federal officials say starting January 30, Montana residents won’t be able to use their driver’s licenses to access military bases, power plants and federal facilities. Unless the state complies with Real ID, Montanans will need another form of ID to board commercial flights in 2018.

Montana’s entire congressional delegation, as well as Governor Steve Bullock, say the licenses are secure as is.

Edward O’Brien first landed at Montana Public Radio three decades ago as a news intern while attending the UM School of Journalism. He covers a wide range of stories from around the state.  
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