Missouri lawmakers on Wednesday voted to direct the State Department of Revenue to not comply with federal driver’s license requirements.

By a vote of 32-0 the State Senate has approved HB 361 – legislation that would have Missouri join a dozen other states in rejecting the federal government REAL ID Act of 2005 requiring states to conform to a federal standard for driver’s licenses or identification cards. Having previously been approved by the House, the bill now goes to Governor Jay Nixon.

The federal Real ID Act, passed in 2005, requires states to collect and verify certain information about applicants for driver’s licenses and state ID cards. It was passed in response to national security concerns after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Opponents of REAL ID express privacy and constitutional concerns. During Senate debate the question of federal government motive was also raised. Senator Gary Nodler (R-Joplin) suggested federal lawmakers lack the courage to anger those with constitutional concerns, so they are forcing the states to do what Congress refuses to do.

“You back door rather than to directly, frontally confront the issue,” said Nodler. “Of whether we should have a national ID card.”

If the governor signs the legislation, Missouri would join 12 other states that have enacted similar anti-Real ID laws.

“That’s a pretty strong statement right there that the federal government should back off,” said Rep. Jim Guest, R-King City, who has sponsored the measure for several years.

States were originally given until May 2008 to comply with the law, but widespread resistance resulted in the Federal Government changing that deadline not once, but twice.

Currently, state have until the end of this year to meet the federal requirements but could get an extension until May 2011.  The Obama Administration has indicated, however, that the implementation date could be delayed.

At that time, citizens in noncompliant states would not be able to board federally regulated planes or enter federal buildings simply by showing their state driver’s licenses.

Some Missouri senators said they think the effective date will be pushed back to 2015 and that federal officials might not even implement the law.

“They are finding out that this is not the great program that the federal government deemed it was,” said Sen. Chuck Purgason, R-Caulfield.

The 10th Amendment

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