Getting through airport security, and getting into federal facilities, could become more difficult for Maine residents if lawmakers don’t act fast.
Maine state identifications are not up to Homeland Security standards, as outlined in the Real ID Act of 2005. If the legislature does not approve changes to the IDs soon, the TSA will stop accepting them at airports next year, forcing Maine residents to use an alternative form of ID, such as a passport.
Maine residents using state IDs are already having issues getting into federal facilities, such as military bases.
“This is serious,” said Maine Senator Bill Diamond (D-Windham), who has sponsored a bill to bring Maine IDs into federal compliance. “It’s something we need to do, and we need to do it fast.”
The bill, which has bipartisan support, gets a public hearing in committee Tuesday at 2 p.m.
“I think people should be very cautious about this,” said Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap, who said lawmakers need to consider concerns about personal privacy.
The Real ID law requires photographs that run through facial recognition software. To get an ID, a citizen needs to submit a copy of a personal document, such as a birth certificate.
Dunlap worries about the government collecting all of this personal information and possibly creating a database.
“I think there’s a lot for people to be concerned about,” said Dunlap. “The government will have unfettered access [to the information.]”
But supporters of the bill say most other states have already issued Real IDs, without incident.
“Other states have done this and there’s not been a problem,” said Diamond. “I really think Maine has got to get on board.”
Dunlap estimates the updates to IDs would cost the state $2-3 million.