Folmer Personal Privacy Legislation Becomes Law

Exempts PA from mandates of Federal REAL ID Act

HARRISBURG – Senator Mike Folmer’s (R-48) Senate Bill 354, a proposal to exempt Pennsylvania from compliance with the unfunded mandate of a “REAL ID” national identification card, has become law. Pennsylvania is the 16th state to opt-out of compliance with the federal law.

“Ben Franklin said ‘those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety,'” quoted Folmer. “This law is a victory for civil liberty, personal rights, and state’s rights. Pennsylvania is now the largest state to opt-out of REAL ID, and hopefully federal officials are getting the message about their constitutional limitations.”

Passed by Congress in 2005 in response to recommendations from the 9-11 Commission, the federal REAL ID Act mandates that states turn driver’s licenses into a national identification card. Under REAL ID, state driver’s licenses would not be accepted for federal purposes – including boarding an aircraft or entering a federal facility – unless they met numerous criteria.

REAL ID also requires states to share motor vehicle databases, which will in effect, create a single, national database. Folmer was concerned that personal information in such a database could not be kept confidential. Digital scans of identification documents, including birth certificates and Social Security cards, would be required to be retained for at least 10 years (or a paper copy for seven years).

It is anticipated that compliance with the unfunded federal mandate would come at a price tag of $11 billion to already financially strapped states.

“The federal government said this plan will protect Americans from terrorists, but I believe it would redefine privacy as we know it, create a mountain of new bureaucracy and increase fees and taxes – without making us any safer,” said Folmer.


Beth A. Williams