Tuesday, April 29, 2008


Missouri Floor Leader of the Senate, Sen. Charlie Shields is taking calls from constituents nationwide to support the passage of Jim Guest's Legislative House Bill #1716 to repeal Real ID in its entirety for the state of Missouri.

They are working long hours tonight and through tomorrow to help repeal Real ID.


TOP STORY : Legislators Prod Congress on Real ID
c/o Stateline.org

Another big-ticket item that states want Congress to tackle is the Real ID Act, the sweeping law approved by Congress in 2005 to ensure that all 50 states issue more secure driver's licenses. Real ID is expected to cost states $3.9 billion over five years.

Governors and state lawmakers last month called on Congress and President Bush to set aside $1 billion to cover the up-front cost of Real ID, according to separate letters from the National Governors Association and NCSL. While NGA wants Congress to “fix and fund” Real ID, NCSL wants an outright repeal.

In an April 4 letter to members of the U.S. Senate, NCSL expressed support for a bill by U.S. Sens. Daniel K. Akaka (D-Hawaii) and John E. Sununu (R-N.H.) that would repeal Real ID and replace it with a new set of rules for more secure driver's licenses that would be negotiated between states and the federal government.(Click here for NCSL’s “Countdown to Real ID” web page, including a database of state legislation).

During the NCSL meeting, a top official with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security expressed concerns over how quickly any new, collaborative rulemaking process between states and the federal government would be able to achieve results.

"This will take forever, and I'm not sure we will get there," Kathy Kraniger, a Homeland Security representative, told state lawmakers April 24.

Pound said Congress could further help states by enacting a second fiscal “stimulus” package that provides more federal dollars for unemployment insurance and for the nation’s crumbling infrastructure and transportation systems. Some states had to put big projects on the back burner because they simply couldn’t afford it.

On the law enforcement front, state lawmakers also lobbied Congress to restore $440 million in funding for a grant program for state and local agencies that seize illicit drugs and help rehabilitate juveniles commit crimes, among many other responsibilities. The program, called the Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program, was cut last year by 67 percent — from $520 million in fiscal 2007 to $170 million in fiscal 2008 — causing law enforcement officials nationwide to consider layoffs and other emergency cost-saving measures.

"I'm very hopeful funding will be restored, because Congress will see how vital (the grant program) is," said South Dakota state Rep. Joni Cutler (R), who has spearheaded the state lawmakers' lobbying efforts in Washington on the issue.

Other national organizations, including the National Governors Association, the National Association of Attorneys General and the National Association of Counties, also have pressed Congress to restore funding for the grants. The state attorneys general last month met with President Bush and U.S. Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey to discuss the grants.

Stateline.org reporters John Gramlich and Daniel C. Vock contributed to this report.

Contact Pamela M. Prah at pprah@stateline.org

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