Crossposted from DemocraticDiva.com
This past session the GOP majority in the Arizona Legislature whiffed on a chance to address the dumb and unforced dilemma the state is in with regard to our drivers licenses and IDs not complying with federal REAL ID standards. Here’s a brief overview of how it went down from the Republic back in March:
Sen. Bob Worsley, R-Mesa, introduced Senate Bill 1273 to avoid what he says could be a disaster when the January deadline arrives. Many travelers don’t have a passport, he said, and the cost of getting one is much higher than a driver’s license — potentially nine times as much.
Worsley’s bill passed the Senate, but House Speaker David Gowan, R-Sierra Vista, failed to assign it to a committee in time for consideration. However, Gowan’s spokesman said Friday that the speaker wants the bill to move forward and is exploring “procedural options.”…
…Arizona lawmakers outlawed the issuance of secure identification cards in 2008 over concerns the federal requirements imposed in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks reached too deeply into citizens’ private lives. Arizona is one of seven states without an ID that meets the federal standards, although 20 states have been granted extensions to comply with the requirements.
Worsley’s bill would give Arizonans the option of applying for a license that would meet the federal requirements. Applicants would have to show two documents confirming their permanent residence and return to a Motor Vehicle Division office every eight years for a new photo.
“There’s no chip in the card, no RF (radio-frequency tracking device) in the card — unlike the passport, which has a chip in it,” Worsley said…
…Opponents of the bill in the Legislature point to the seven-year-old ban and say there are alternatives to issuing a federally compliant driver’s license.
For example, Arizona could apply for a waiver, said Senate President Andy Biggs, R-Gilbert. However, Homeland Security offers extensions only for states that are working toward compliance but have complications in meeting the federal deadlines.
“I’m a big believer in skepticism toward the government,” Biggs said, especially when it comes to privacy issues. “It’s hard for me to believe the TSA (the federal Transportation Security Administration) is going to reject a legitimate driver’s license.”
In short, a Republican Senator proposed a solution that made it through the Senate (thanks to all the Democrats joining with the seven Republicans who voted for it) but it died in the House because the paranoid black helicopter crowd had to be indulged. In sum, it was a failure on the part of the Republicans. Not the individual fault of every single one of them, obviously, but as the majority caucus that controls the Arizona Legislature.
I’ll not say there was never any Democratic culpability in this, as then-Governor Janet Napolitano did sign the foolish ban on compliance with REAL ID (for whatever her reasons were) in 2008. But, as noted by Senator Biggs, the GOP leadership has had seven years since Napolitano departed the state, and control of it went completely into their hands, to come up with a workable alternative. At long last, Sen. Worsley came up with a good one! Under his plan you didn’t even have to get the ID with the thingamajiggy the jackbooted feds put in it that steals your essence! Keep your virginal state ID and get a passport, whatever. But, no.
This problem with state IDs simply cannot be laid, in any part, on Democrats in 2015 but lo and behold:
The machinations left Phoenix resident William Shaw sputtering in disgust.
“That whole thing was a bipartisan fiasco,” he fumed. The long-standing ban on complying with the federal law has resulted in confusion and inconvenience for drivers, he said.
His partner, who uses a walking stick, had to get a new driver’s license earlier this year when his old one expired. And now he’ll have to stand in line, again, to get a compliant license, Shaw said.
To be clear, I’m not here to bag on Mr. Shaw, who is probably a very nice man and understandably frustrated with this REAL ID problem. There are two possibilities here, neither of which reflect poorly on him: One is that Shaw assumes that Democratic lawmakers and bureaucrats are equally culpable because he doesn’t think of himself as a partisan and gets a steady diet of “both sides do it!” from his trusted media sources. The other is that he does know it’s the Republicans who have been dithering and pandering to the chemtrails crowd for several years now but also knows that, if he wants to appear reasonable and have his concerns taken seriously by the Very Serious People™, he must publicly blame both sides. Don’t want to come off like a partisan crank, even if you’re 100% right. It simply isn’t done. (Unless you’re a conservative partisan crank. You can totally go to town on that in Arizona. Civility is for everyone else.)