Conservatively Speaking

State Senator Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin) represents parts of four counties: Milwaukee, Waukesha, Racine, and Walworth. Her Senate District 28 includes New Berlin, Franklin, Greendale, Hales Corners, Muskego, Waterford, Big Bend, the town of Vernon and parts of Greenfield, East Troy, and Mukwonago. Senator Lazich has been in the Legislature for more than a decade. She considers herself a tireless crusader for lower taxes, reduced spending and smaller government.

All states beat deadline to comply with Real ID

Photo ID

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has declared that all 50 states are compliant with the Real ID driver’s license program. Maine was the last state to come on board in late March, beating the March 31, 2008 deadline. Had Maine refused to comply, the DHS would have ordered airport screeners to pat down all Maine residents before they could board airplanes.

After the Legislature approved Real ID in the 2005 legislative session that I supported, Governor Doyle signed the measure into law on March 10, 2006.

The DHS website says:

“REAL ID is a law and rule that establishes minimum standards for state-issued driver's licenses and personal identification cards. REAL ID compliant drivers licenses and ID cards will allow you to board a federally-regulated airplane, access a federal facility or a nuclear power plant.

The REAL ID Act of 2005, was passed by Congress to make it more difficult to fraudulently acquire a drivers license or ID card, as part of the effort to fight terrorism and reduce fraud.

REAL ID compliant licenses and ID cards must meet minimum standards which include

  • information and security features that must be incorporated into each card
  • proof of identity and U.S. citizenship or legal status of an applicant
  • verification of the source documents provided by an applicant
  • security standards for the offices that issue licenses and identification cards


The 9/11 Commission endorsed the REAL ID requirements, noting that “For terrorists, travel documents are as important as weapons … All but one of the 9/11 hijackers acquired some form of identification document, some by fraud.  Acquisition of these forms of identification would have assisted them in boarding commercial flights, renting cars, and other necessary activities.”

Real ID was introduced in Congress by James Sensenbrenner (R-Wisconsin). Sensenbrenner’s motivation was a finding by a federal investigation that 9/11 hijackers used about 30 driver’s licenses or state-issued ID’s to pull off their murderous attacks.

Even though 50 states are officially in compliance, there is opposition in many states to Real ID. What is being called a crisis has been averted temporarily because states have been granted extensions to comply with the provisions of Real ID. That extension expires December 31, 2009. leaving it to the next President and Congress to address. has more. 

I concur with Stewart A. Baker, DHS Assistant Secretary for Policy who wrote the following during March 2008:

“The driver’s license is the most commonly used identity document in the United States. Originally designed to verify that you’re allowed to drive, it is now the primary identification for almost everyone over the age of 16 in the United States. It’s used to enter federal buildings, board airplanes, prove your age, and it’s even used in some states as a debit card.

Like it or not, Americans rely on driver’s licenses for every day life. That’s why the security of state licensing systems is so important. And, licensing systems are only as secure as the weakest link.

Unfortunately, we learned this the hard way. Twice.

First, in 1995, when Timothy McVeigh was able to create a fake South Dakota license with ease; all it took was a manual typewriter and a kitchen iron. He used the license to rent a Ryder truck in Oklahoma and destroy the Murrah Federal Building. Then, on September 11, 2001, eighteen of the nineteen hijackers carried government-issued IDs – mostly state driver’s licenses, many obtained fraudulently.

9/11 Commission recognized that it’s too easy to get false identification in the U.S. That’s why the Commission determined that ‘(s)ecure identification should begin in the United States. The federal government should set standards for the issuance of birth certificates and sources of identification, such as driver’s licenses.’ Congress responded with the REAL ID Act of 2005, which requires the federal government to set standards for the identifications it accepts.”

For our safety and security, it is abundantly clear the United States needs Real ID.


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