Ariz. lawmakers balk at new driver's licenses

Opposition is building in Arizona's Legislature to Democratic Gov. Janet Napolitano's plan to authorize a hybrid driver's license that also would serve as a border-crossing card and would comply with the Real ID Act.

Napolitano and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff announced an agreement in December to create an Arizona driver's license that will allow holders to cross the U.S. borders under the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative. They also agreed that the new "enhanced driver's license" would comply with the Real ID Act of 2005, which sets national standards for state driver's licenses and requires states to share information on license holders.

The new Arizona license would contain a radio frequency tag that can be scanned at a distance. Opponents have raised concerns about privacy and intrusiveness, as well as cost.

Legislation to implement the new hybrid driver's license must be approved by the Arizona Legislature for the licenses to become reality, but the relevant legislation has failed to win approval in committee to date. "It is nowhere," said a spokeswoman for Rep. Bill Konopnicki (R), sponsor of the bill.

Also, the Arizona House of Representatives last week passed legislation that would stop implementation of the Real ID Act in the state. That bill next goes to the Senate.

Arizona is one of four border states ? including New York, Vermont and Washington ? that have announced plans to issue hybrid driver's license and border-crossing identification cards. Washington began issuing the cards in January.

The card programs present opportunities for contractors active in identification card and identification management.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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