Today, Governor Steve Bullock and Attorney General Tim Fox announced that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (USDHS) had backed off of their threat to stop accepting Montana driver’s licenses and identification cards for certain purposes listed under the REAL ID Act. In January, Bullock sent a letter to Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson pushing back against efforts of the federal government to force Montana to implement REAL ID and urging them not to restrict Montanans’ ability to use their secure Montana driver’s license for federal identification purposes and commercial air travel.
“Montanans have said loud and clear that they will not comply with REAL ID,” Bullock said. “For us, REAL ID raises serious concerns about the extensive collection of their personal and private information by the federal government. I’m glad that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security recognizes the work we’ve done, independent of a federal mandate, to bolster the security of licenses, while protecting the right to privacy that Montanans hold dear.”
In a letter to Bullock, USDHS acknowledges the security improvements made to licenses and identification cards issued by the State of Montana. The letter grants an extension of the implementation of the requirements of REAL ID through October 10, 2015.
“It’s refreshing to see federal officials finally recognize that Montana didn’t need a federal mandate to produce and issue secure state identification,” said Attorney General Tim Fox. The Attorney General’s Office oversees the state Motor Vehicle Division, which is responsible for issuing driver licenses and state identification cards.
In 2007, Montana’s legislature voted unanimously to forbid implementation of REAL ID in the State of Montana. All 150 members of the 60th Montana Legislature agreed that REAL ID implementation is “inimical to the security and well-being of the people of Montana, will cause unneeded expanse and inconvenience to those people,” (House Bill 287) and raises serious questions about states’ rights.
The letter from USDHS to Bullock is available online.