Thursday, 4:30 PM
Coakley condemns federal driver license law
By David Abel, GLOBE STAFF
The stateís chief law enforcement officer plans to testify at the State House on Thursday that a federal law that would tighten driver license regulations infringes on civil liberties and would cost the state more than $140 million.
Joining a growing rebellion by states throughout the country, Attorney General Martha Coakley plans to argue before the Legislatureís Joint Committee on Veterans and Federal Affairs that the two-year-old Real ID Act would unduly burden Massachusetts.
"The Real ID Act was pushed through Congress in 2005 without meaningful debate or hearing on its implications for the states," Coakley said in a statement. "Not only does the Real ID Act call for sweeping changes in how states issue driversí licenses with limited time to implement the changes, but it does not consider the financial burden placed on the states."
The Real ID Act requires states to verify the identities of people who apply for or renew driver licenses, starting next spring, and to make sure they are American citizens or US residents.
Russ Knocke, a spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security, said Massachusetts residents will be at a disadvantage if they fail to adhere to the law.
"Citizens from those states who donít comply with the Real ID Act are going to be dissatisfied with their leadership when it comes time for implementation," he said. "There are going to be practical impacts on their daily lives. For example, they wonít be able to use their driverís license for commercial air travel or to enter federal buildings. They would need to travel with a passport."
Coakley joined Governor Deval Patrick and other administration officials in opposing the act. Secretary of Public Safety Kevin Burke and the Registrar of Motor Vehicles Anne Collins will express the administrationís opposition at the hearing.
Coakley will testify in support of a resolution filed by Uxbridge Democrat Senator Richard T. Moore.
The resolution would prohibit the Legislature from enacting any laws or authorizing any appropriation to implement the Real ID Act in Massachusetts, unless the appropriation is for either a comprehensive analysis of costs, mounting a constitutional challenge by the attorney general, or until the federal government provides sufficient dollars to pay for it.