Oregon’s deadline for complying with the federal Real ID Act is ticking down, and state Sen. Bill Hansell of Athena has proposed a bill to beat that clock.
“This is one of my major bills,” the Republican and former Umatilla County commissioner said. “We can’t just keep kicking this can down the road, and we can’t ignore it.”
Without a Real ID bill, Hansell said, Oregonians “will no longer be able to use your driver’s licenses to fly domestically, or enter a federal facility that requires ID, such as Hanford.”
Hansell is the chief sponsor or co-sponsor on 27 bills and resolutions for the 2017 Legislature, which convenes Feb. 1. Rep Greg Smith, R-Heppner, is the chief sponsor on eight bills. And Rep. Greg Barreto, R-Cove, gave his name as the chief sponsor on four bills and co-chief on nine more, including Senate Bill 374 with Hansell to authorize the Oregon Department of Transportation to “issue driver licenses, driver permits and identification cards that meet requirements of federal Real ID Act of 2005.”
Over the next several days, the East Oregonian will look at the local legislators’ key proposals by category, starting with transportation.
The Real ID Act came out of the 9/11 Commission’s recommendation to enhance the security of state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards. While 25 states have complied with the act, according to the Department of Homeland Security, seven states have not, meaning federal agencies, including the Transportation Security Administration at airports, do not have to accept driver’s licenses and identification cards from those states.
The 2009 Oregon Legislature considered the act an unfunded mandate and passed a bill prohibiting the Driver and Motor Vehicle Services Division from spending state money to meet the federal requirements. Oregon’s extension ends June 6 for Real ID enforcement, only days after the Legislature adjourns, and Hansell said state transportation staff reported no more extensions are coming. Oregon by 2020 will join the ranks of the non-compliant.
“That’s where we are,” Hansell said. “I guess it’s a kind of game of chicken.”
Hansell’s bill could end that game, but the bill does not make Oregonians get a Real ID.
“If they want the Real ID, they have the opportunity to get it,” Hansell said, “... and because it’s not mandatory, those who want it will pay the state to get the Real ID and help cut down the cost to the state.”
Passing the bill could be tough, though. Plenty of lawmakers from that 2009 session remain in office. He said coming from local government he understands the resistance to unfunded mandates, but Oregon’s lack of a Real ID law imposes hardships on its citizens.
Barreto said even if the bill becomes law, the DMV lacks the ability to issue the Real IDs. He said he learned the division upgraded its computer system but did not anticipate having to meet this federal requirement. The situation, he said, is frustrating, and the vehicle division should have planned better.
“So here we are with a new program and we’ve got no way to get this thing on it,” he said.
Without the Real ID, Oregonians could use passports to get on planes, for example, but a new passport book costs $110, not including the cost of the photo. Barreto said he has a passport, but maybe not all Oregonians could afford one.
A couple of other proposals to remove the spending prohibition are on the table, but Hansell said SB 374 would not only overturn the old legislation but direct the transportation department to set up the Real ID program. Hansell said he worked with ODOT staff to craft the bill’s language, and making the Real ID voluntary is the bill’s central component.
Hansell’s second transportation bill seeks to help victims of sex trafficking.
He said a pair of constituents who visited the East Coast noticed signs in highway restrooms providing help-line numbers for sex trafficking, and they asked him why Oregon’s restrooms don’t have those signs.
“My staff began to research it, and we found out it’s against the law to put them up,” Hansell said.
Senate Bill 375 would direct the state’s transportation and parks departments to allow informational signs about sex trafficking at roadside rest areas primarily along interstates 5 and 84. The bill also would established funds for each department that could accept public and private money to fulfill the bill’s mission.
“We’re got to do everything we can to stop the insidious advance of the sex trade,” Hansell said, and restrooms are one place victims can find information for help without pimps watching.
And Hansell submitted SB 556, which creates a $250 fine for driving with a dog on your lap.
“We have some pretty stringent laws about driving distracted and impaired,” he said. “... it just seems to make sense to me that a dog on your lap while you’re driving, which I’ve seen people do, could potentially be very distracting and cause an accident just as seriously as someone on their cellphone.”