Nevada lawmakers say new ID program should be repealed

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CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) - A resolution urging Congress to repeal the federal Real ID Act won approval Tuesday in Nevada's Assembly Transportation Committee.

AJR6, sponsored chiefly by the committee's chairman, Kelvin Atkinson, D-North Las Vegas, now moves to the full Assembly.

The panel acted after being told that Nevada will take advantage of an extension offered to states from having to implement the act mandated by Congress and set to begin in May 2008.

Ginny Lewis, head of the state Department of Motor Vehicles, earlier this month had said a delay wouldn't change the fact that all states must be in compliance with the law by May 2013. Lewis said Tuesday the plan now is to start issuing Real ID-compliant driver licenses in October 2008.

The DMV chief said the 2013 deadline still exists, and there's a concern about "compressed chaos" because the state will have less time to fully implement Real ID. She added that hiring and training new employees and expanding DMV offices will be "huge for the state."

But Lewis also said that she remains hopeful that the federal government will listen to concerns being voiced in many states and make changes in the program.

Gov. Jim Gibbons has requested $30 million in his proposed budget to implement the Real ID Act over the coming two years. The money would allow the state to hire 196 additional DMV employees and keep key offices open as long as 12 hours per day. The average wait time at a DMV in Nevada last year was 56 minutes.

If the law remains unchanged, Nevadans will have to show up at a DMV office to prove who they are to get a new driver's license. That's expected to lead to long waits and confusion over the documents needed to prove a person's identity.

Critics of the law federal included Joseph Turco of the ACLU of
Nevada, Janine Hansen of the conservative Nevada Eagle Forum and
the Independent American Party and others.

Turco urged the committee to consider the privacy issues involved in creation of a national database, saying, "Privacy is far more important than the delays and the hassle and the rest."

The Real ID Act was signed by President Bush as part of an emergency appropriation to fund the Iraq War. It will require that the states produce new driver's licenses or ID cards with photos that can be read by facial-recognition technology.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)