Monday, January 14, 2008

Alaska State Senator Bill Wielechowski Prefiles SB202 To Prohibit State Funding For Real ID

On January 13th, 2008, KTUU Channel 2 in Anchorage reported that Alaska State Senator Bill Wielechowski (pictured at left) has prefiled SB202 to prohibit any state funding for the implementation of Real ID.

"I think most Alaskans are fundamentally opposed to this and the federal government wants us to pay for it on top of that," said Wielechowski, D-Anchorage. "So what this bill says is 'Hey, you know what if you want to implement big brother, if you want to implement a surveillance society we're not going to pay for it.' That's what we're saying with this bill."

Wielechowski said he expects bipartisan support for the bill. Noteworthy prior legislative supporters for this type of legislation include Rep. Paul Seaton (R-Homer) and Rep. Max Gruenberg (D-Anchorage). One of the more likely opponents is District 31 Representative Bob Lynn (R-Anchorage Hillside), who explains his support for Real ID on his official legislative blog. However, it was the State Senate that supported Real ID last year; with Wielechowski running interference, that could change. If his bill passes the Senate, it should sail through the House.

People have been squawking about Real ID nationwide, and not without justification. Already, numerous people have reported delays and obstructions in getting drivers licenses renewed, as well as obtaining passports. Women who never bothered officially changing their names after getting married are now suddenly finding themselves confronted with bureaucratic roadblocks, as Alaska author Heather Lende did when she went to renew her Alaska driver's license.

The primary clearinghouse for information exposing the problems with Real ID is Seventeen states have already passed legislation codifying their refusal to implement the program. Six Presidential candidates have placed themselves on record regarding Real ID. One, John McCain, supports it (no surprise). Three others, Hillary Clinton, Mike Huckabee, and John Edwards, have reservations. The last two, Barack Obama and Ron Paul, are absolutely opposed to it. Perhaps this outcry is one of the main reasons the Federal government just announced plans to delay full implementation of Real ID until 2017.

What we've already seen in some instances is that Real ID has to potential to violate the presumption of innocence. It asks all residents of the U.S. to prove that they're legal residents, but if the system doesn't work properly, the person will be presumed NOT to be a lawful resident. This is a mistake that must be corrected; no one should be placed into a bureaucratic dead end or to have impossible standards imposed upon them. If this means a few illegals sneak through the net to preserve the presumption of innocence, so be it. Better that "nine guilty men go free" than one innocent man be unjustly sanctioned.

Alaskans who support Senator Wielechowski's legislation should contact their lawmakers and put pressure on them to support SB202. Vist the AlaskaRealID website for more information.

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