Lawmakers Chop Real ID Funding

Members of a joint Nevada legislative budget panel have voted unanimously against state funding for the federal Real ID Act, opting instead to wait and see if the measure mandated by Congress in 2005 is changed or repealed.

The latest Real ID budget submitted by Gov. Jim Gibbons would use $26.4 million in state funds over the next two years to start implementing the act, which will require every driver in Nevada pass through a Department of Motor Vehicles office to show proof of identity to get a new driver's license.

Based on the action Tuesday of a joint Senate Finance and Assembly Ways and Means budget subcommittee, the state will seek extension from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to implement Real ID. The DMV had planned to start the program in May 2008.

The only funding approved by the panel was $100,000 this year to
hire a project manager who would submit the state's plan to implement Real ID. The project manager position could be continued in the 2008-2009 fiscal year at a cost of $200,000.

Assemblywoman Kathy McClain, D-Las Vegas, made the motion to delay implementation, saying, "I think we should ask for the extension for as long as possible and hope it goes away in the meantime, which I think it is going to."

Sen. Bob Beers, R-Las Vegas, seconded McClain's motion, saying the Legislature is "shooting in the dark" on Real ID because the final regulations for the program won't be finalized until later this summer after lawmakers have gone home.

It would be less costly to hold a one-day special session to implement Real ID if that becomes necessary rather than spend millions now to try to prepare for a process that remains undefined, he said.

DMV Director Ginny Lewis said the agency's plan to start issuing the IDs in May of 2008 was to coincide with the expiration of Nevada licenses, which occurs on a four-year cycle. Replacing licenses on regularly scheduled expiration dates would lessen chaos connected to the process, she said.

But McClain said compliance with Real ID will be chaotic under any circumstances.

As the law now reads, the Real ID program must be completed by the states by May of 2013 whether an extension is sought or not.

The recommendation of the subcommittee will require approval by a majority of both the Senate Finance and Assembly Ways and Means
Committees, as well as by the full Legislature.

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