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Utah House votes to not comply with Real ID Act

Utah House votes to not comply with Real ID Act

By Brock Vergakis, AP Writer | Posted - Feb. 18, 2010 at 11:03 p.m.

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- State agencies would be forbidden from further compliance with the federal Real ID Act under a measure the Utah House approved Thursday.

The move would do nothing to end hours-long waits at state drivers license offices, but could mean that Utah residents won't be able to board airplanes or enter federal buildings in the future.

The Real ID Act was launched after the 2001 terror attacks to make driver's licenses more secure, so that eventually all driver's licenses would have several layers of security features to prevent forgery.

Opponents call the act an unfunded mandate that tramples on states' rights. A slew of states have already passed laws and resolutions saying they won't comply with any portion of it.

Those who don't want Utah to comply contend the federal government won't stick to its threat of not allowing passengers with noncompliant drivers licenses to board airplanes if enough states join together in opposition, creating the possibility of gridlock at the nation's airports.

Republican Gov. Gary Herbert's spokeswoman, Angie Welling, said Herbert is among those who do not want Utah to comply with the federal act.

Utah came into partial compliance with the act this year by requiring residents to provide birth certificates and other documents to prove they're in the country legally before getting a license.

This has led to wait times at driver license offices around the state increasing from about 20 minutes to more than three hours at some urban locations since the requirements took effect Jan. 1.

State lawmakers and Herbert blamed the long waits on the Real ID Act, when in reality the change in state law was fully supported by legislators to make it harder for illegal immigrants to get licenses without any discussion about inconveniences it might cause for those in the country legally.

Rep. Stephen Sandstron, an Orem Republican sponsoring the plan, ensured in his bill that state agencies would continue to ask for the additional documentation Real ID requires.

One of his primary concerns about the act is that the federal government might use microchips to track where Americans travel, although drivers licenses in compliance with the Real ID act don't include them.

House Bill 234 was approved 68-3 on Thursday. It now advances to the Senate.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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