House Transportation and Defense Committee Chairman Joe Palmer, R-Meridian, told IdahoReporter.com it could cost $30 million to comply with federal Real ID regulations.
If Idaho doesn’t comply, residents with state-issued drivers licenses might not be able to pass through airport security checkpoints or access federal facilities, including the Idaho National Laboratory nuclear research facility near Idaho Falls.
It might also apply to military bases.
Palmer pitched a plan Friday to ask the federal government for more time to study the issue, which could give Idaho another year to assess the situation.
“This is just for the department to look into the criteria required,” Palmer said. “This is so we have the bigger picture.”
Idaho rejected Real ID in 2007, citing concerns over handing Idahoans’ sensitive personal information to the Bureau of Homeland Security. That move, which passed unanimously in both legislative chambers, won the state praise from the American Civil Liberties Union and other liberty-minded groups.
Nationwide, nine states continue rejecting the rules. All the others either comply or have extensions for compliance.
Opponents rejected the federal rule due to overall cost and concerns that more data transfer of personal information could open more Americans to identity theft.
Idaho isn’t asking for an official extension yet, but hopes the federal government will allow the state more time for study.
If the Gem State doesn’t comply and doesn’t receive more time to examine requirements, security checkpoints and federal facilities become off-limits in 2016.
Palmer said compliance costs could run between $20 million and $30 million. Allen Frew, an Idaho Transportation Department analyst, said a consultant projected a $20 million bill in 2008, but that was before the state upgrades its own systems and technology outside of the federal regulations.
That, Frew said, could bring down the total tab.
The House chairman said his legislation won’t guarantee more time to comply, but because Idaho law clearly forbids the state from complying with Real ID, he won’t take that route.
“We do not have any guarantee this legislation will even do that,” Palmer said. “If they don’t, they don’t. I’m going to give it a try.”
The House will hear the legislation in coming days. Palmer said he’d like to hurry the process and put the bill to Gov. Butch Otter’s desk as soon as possible. “As soon as the governor gets it, it needs to go into effect,” Palmer said.