Report: Mass. Licenses Spurned By Feds

Massachusetts residents are finding that their state driver's license is no longer good enough to use as an ID to gain access to some federal facilities.

That's because Massachusetts is one of nine states that has not fully complied or sought an extension to comply with a federal law called REAL ID, which requires states to verify citizenship and update security standards when issuing licenses.

The Department of Homeland Security, which delayed enforcement of the 2005 law for years, started a gradual implementation in April.

Last month, the law was expanded to restricted areas in federal buildings and nuclear power plants. In January, it applies to most federal buildings where ID is required. Unless the state participates in the law, Massachusetts residents without other identification will find themselves banned from commercial flights as soon as 2016.

Noncompliant states face no direct penalty other than inconvenience for their citizens.

Susan Podziba, a public policy mediator from Brookline, told The Boston Globe she found herself unable to access the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration earlier this month, forcing her to hold a meeting in a cafeteria outside the security gate.

"It was like wow, I am a U.S. citizen and suddenly my Massachusetts ID isn't good enough?" she said.

Massachusetts, like some other states, has applied for an extension, said Cyndi Roy Gonzalez, a spokeswoman for the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.

"DHS is asking the states to do something radically different with their licensing systems," she said. "We want to make sure we do it right and do it well."

The 2005 law stems from recommendations by the 9/11 Commission. Several of the 9/11 hijackers used driver's licenses to board.

Critics say the law doesn't achieve much, is costly to implement and raises privacy concerns.

"For any American citizen, they should find this whole program completely laughable and ridiculous," Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap said. Maine is one of the other noncompliant states.

This article was originally published on August 26, 2014.


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