Under bill, Ariz. would opt out of national ID card
Mary Jo Pitzl
The state Senate is poised to approve a bill to bar Arizona from participating in a federal program that would create a standardized national identification card.
The move comes as the federal Real ID Act is getting strong resistance from states nationwide. Earlier this week, the Washington state Senate voted to delay participation in the program pending more-specific guidelines, and last week, the federal Homeland Security Department announced it would delay its effective date for two years, to the end of 2009.
In Arizona, Senate Bill 1152 would prevent the state from taking part in the national standards for state-issued driver's licenses and identification cards.
It passed on an uncontested voice vote Wednesday; a formal vote is scheduled for today.
State Sen. Karen Johnson, the bill's sponsor, said the two-year delay does nothing to dim her opposition.
"I am absolutely against a national ID," said Johnson, R-Mesa. "If we do this, we'll have a nationwide databank that would be a gold mine for ID theft."
Plus, Johnson said, she is troubled that such a national repository could be privatized, further imperiling privacy rights.
State Sen. Jorge Garcia, D-Tucson, questioned how Arizonans would be able to board aircraft for national travel if the state opted out of the program. Johnson said his concerns are premature because guidelines are still being drafted for the federal program.
Other states and civil rights groups have objected to the law on a variety of fronts, including violation of state's rights to fears of privacy invasion and the cost to create and carry out a new driver's license.
"The ACLU and myself probably are not together very much," but on this issue, they have found common ground, she said.