Napolitano’s signing letter for House Bill 2677; REAL ID Act; Implementation Prohibited
June 17, 2008
The Honorable Jim Weiers
Speaker of the House
Arizona House of Representatives
1700 West Washington
Phoenix, Arizona 85007
Re: House Bill 2677; REAL ID Act; Implementation Prohibited
Dear Speaker Weiers:
I am signing House Bill 2677, through which Arizona joins 13 other states in their formal refusal to implement the federal government’s REAL ID Act of 2005.
From its inception, the REAL ID Act has been riddled with problems, both technical and policy-oriented. Accordingly, it took the U.S. Department of Homeland Security until January 11, 2008, over two years after the Act’s enactment, to issue final rules on the drivers’ license provisions of the REAL ID Act. As acknowledgement of the scope of the problems with the REAL ID Act, the rules include another potential delay of the Act’s implementation date to 2011 and, under some circumstances, as late as 2017. In the meantime, Congress and the Administration have consistently refused to fund the states’ high costs of implementing the REAL ID Act. The White House’s own budget staff estimates the cost to implement the Act to be at least $4 billion. To date, the federal government has appropriated only $90 million for those purposes and those funds have not yet been released. My support of the REAL, ID Act is, and has always been, contingent upon adequate federal funding. Absent that, the REAL ID Act becomes just another unfunded federal mandate.
My resistance to an unfunded REAL ID Act should not be confused with my proposed “3-in-1” Enhanced Driver License Program. The “3-in-1” Enhanced Driver License Program is an Arizona program to make available, at the applicant’s option, a driver’s license that will:
(1) serve in lieu of a passport for travel between the United States, Canada and Mexico;
(2) act as verification of the holder’s legal immigration status; and
(3) continue as a driver’s license in Arizona.
While the “3-in-1” Enhanced Driver License proposal referenced the REAL ID Act, it did so only insofar as implementation of the REAL ID Act was Absent federal funding, implementation of the REAL ID Act is not “practicable” and, thus, the “‘3-in-1” Enhanced Driver License Program must proceed on its own. For Arizonans who must travel back and forth to Mexico and Canada, the “3-in-1” Enhanced Driver License remains an excellent option. I urge the legislature to revisit this proposal.
For all of the reasons described in this letter, and primarily because the federal government has not met the financial burden associated with the REAL ID Act, I am signing House Bill 2677 into law.