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Gregoire signs bill rejecting national ID card
Governor calls it too expensive, threat to privacy
By DAVID AMMONS
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
OLYMPIA -- Gov. Chris Gregoire, who is developing a high-tech state driver's license that can serve as a border-crossing document, signed legislation Wednesday rejecting Real ID, a federal identification requirement that would essentially create a national ID card.
The legislation is part of a growing rebellion against an expensive federal mandate that the American Civil Liberties Union says would threaten personal privacy.
The new state law says Washington will not implement the new Real ID system unless: Uncle Sam foots the bill, the government takes steps to ensure that privacy and data security concerns are addressed, and the system doesn't place unreasonable costs or record-keeping burdens on the average citizen.
The measure also gives the state attorney general the authority, if the governor concurs, to go to court to challenge the federal law.
The system was adopted by Congress in 2005, growing out of homeland security concerns. It requires states to develop a new driver's license and personal identification card that allows information to be stored and checked by national databases. It requires the applicant to show a birth certificate, proof of citizenship, proof of state residency and other information. The person's driving history and other information must be stored electronically by the state.
The new system, which is supposed to be a requirement in 2008, would cost the state $250 million to develop and implement, the governor said.
"This is another unfunded mandate from the federal government and, even worse, it doesn't protect the privacy of the citizens of Washington," Gregoire said in signing the bill.
The measure passed both houses with a strong bipartisan vote.