Legislature(2005 - 2006)CAPITOL 106
03/16/2006 08:00 AM STATE AFFAIRS
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* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 290-REQUIREMENTS FOR DRIVER'S LICENSE/I.D. 8:14:45 AM CHAIR SEATON announced that the first order of business was HOUSE BILL NO. 290, "An Act relating to issuance of identification cards and to issuance of driver's licenses." 8:14:45 AM REPRESENTATIVE LYNN moved to adopt the proposed committee substitute (CS) for HB 290, Version 24-LS0981\Y, Luckhaupt, 2/2/06, as a work draft. REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG objected. He said he would first like to hear an outline of the changes made in Version Y. 8:17:29 AM NANCY MANLY, Staff to Representative Bob Lynn, Alaska State Legislature, on behalf of Representative Lynn, sponsor, suggested that the director of the Division of Motor Vehicles, Duane Bannock, would best be able to review the changes. 8:17:56 AM REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG reviewed the changes himself. 8:18:47 AM CHAIR SEATON asked Mr. Bannock if there are any further changes that would be brought about through Version Y. 8:18:55 AM DUANE BANNOCK, Director, Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV), Department of Administration, said Representative Gruenberg covered all the changes in his review of Version Y. 8:19:02 AM REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG removed his objection. There being no further objection, Version Y was before the committee. 8:19:15 AM REPRESENTATIVE LYNN, as sponsor of HB 290, noted that a similar bill was before the legislature during its previous session, and many of the concerns raised at that time are still valid today. He said the bill would require that anyone obtaining an Alaska driver's license have a legal presence in Alaska, which coincides with having a legal presence in the U.S. Representative Lynn stated that President George W. Bush signed into law the Real ID Act on May 11, 2005, the provisions of which improve the security of state driver's licenses and identification (ID) cards, which Representative Lynn posited is a good idea. The proposed legislation, he said, is designed to bring Alaska into compliance with "two major components" of the Real ID Act. Applicants with a time-limited legal status may not receive a driver's license or ID card that has an expiration date later than the length of their allowable time in the U.S. If the applicant's paperwork permits an indefinite length of stay, he said, then the expiration date of the license would be one year from the date of issue. Representative Lynn relayed that the federal government has given Alaska the date of May 11, 2008, to come into compliance with the Act, but he stated his belief that the seriousness of the issue deserves action before that time. 8:21:48 AM REPRESENTATIVE GARDNER asked what the consequence would be for states that don't comply by the set date. 8:22:05 AM REPRESENTATIVE LYNN said he doesn't know. 8:22:27 AM REPRESENTATIVE GARDNER asked if the Division of Motor Vehicles has access to the appropriate documents to determine whether someone issued a driver's license who is not a citizen has reached the limit on the length of time he/she is allowed to be in the state. REPRESENTATIVE LYNN said he believes the division has access to that information. 8:22:51 AM CHAIR SEATON noted that there is no fiscal note in the bill packet. He indicated that there would be a legal requirement that the Division of Motor Vehicles determine the validity of documentary evidence, and he questioned what type of liability would be placed on the DMV employees if they "do not catch documents that would not be legal." 8:24:03 AM MR. BANNOCK expressed pleasure in being involved with HB 290. He described the legislation as "a part of coming into compliance with the federal Real ID Act." However, he stated that not all of the details of the Act have been completed; the federal rule-making committee is currently meeting to develop "all of the minutia of this Act." Alaska has identified two major components that are out of compliance, which HB 290 addresses. Mr. Bannock told the committee members that during his testimony, he may use the term "driver's license" and mean both driver's license and state issued identification cards. MR. BANNOCK said the first part of the bill addresses the issuance of a driver's license and the requirement that a person receiving such a card must either be a citizen of the U.S. or have documentation showing he/she is in the U.S. legally. The second part of the bill addresses the group of people who are not U.S. citizens but are here legally. A common example, he said, is that of foreign exchange students who are in the state on a student visa. The bill would allow the DMV the authority to shorten the length of [the validity of] a driver's license to coincide with the expiration of the documents that allow the exchange student to remain in the country legally. 8:27:02 AM MR. BANNOCK, regarding Representative Gardner's question about compliance, said if Alaska is not in compliance with the Real ID Act in time, the division will be required to mark a nonconforming driver's license. As such, that identification cannot be used to access a federal building and will not be recognized as valid identification by the Transportation Security Administration. By May 2008, a person without a government issued ID that meets the federal requirements will not be allowed to board an airplane. MR. BANNOCK said when Governor Mike Huckabee stated that the Real ID Act puts the Division of Motor Vehicles' employees on the frontline of national defense, he meant that as an insult. Mr. Bannock relayed that when he says the same thing he means it as a compliment. Regarding Chair Seaton's questions related to liability, he indicated that he does not know what liabilities his employees may incur. Notwithstanding that, he emphasized how seriously he takes the issue. He reported that his number one manager of driver's licensing is a member on one of the subcommittees of the federal rule-making committee. He said her work involves foreign documents and "the second group of people ... that we're talking about." MR. BANNOCK, regarding the technological advances being made in order to comply with both the projected state law and the implementation of the Real ID Act, stated that in his 2007 capital budget he has requested small desktop scanners to get electronic copies of everyone's birth certificates. Mr. Bannock talked about a grant given to the division to "connect with the social security division" through a program called Social Security On Line Verification (SSOLV). The program detects mistakes and fraud related to social security numbers. Mr. Bannock stated that as soon as the division has completely implemented the SSOLV campaign, it will move into the next electronic verification, called, Systematic Alien Verification (SAV), which will allow the division to electronically verify the validity of foreign passports. He predicted that technology would be incorporated by the DMV by 2008. 8:32:28 AM MR. BANNOCK, in response to a request for clarification from Chair Seaton, stated his belief that the State of Alaska is ultimately [liable] for anything his DMV employees do or don't do. He offered an example of the benefit of using the verification and storage process previously described. CHAIR SEATON asked if Mr. Bannock would say that the requirement that the documents be valid will be covered by making a copy of the documents and keeping them in the DMV's records. MR. BANNOCK answered, "That is one part of it, sir, yes, sir." 8:33:42 AM REPRESENTATIVE GARDNER mentioned that there is something called a Metricula Consular card, which is a type of fraudulent government ID card. She asked Mr. Bannock if he is aware of any other fraudulent card that should be included in the bill. MR. BANNOCK answered no. He stated, "I'm not aware of any nearly-as-broad documents that have been [widely] accepted by other organizations." In response to a follow-up question from Representative Gardner, he confirmed that he is familiar with the Metricula Consular card. 8:34:47 AM REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG asked, "If the purpose of this is to deter terrorism, and you have an illegal alien, and they can't get on the plane without a valid ID, how are they going to leave the country?" MR. BANNOCK deferred response to that question to "the Real ID [Act] people." 8:35:22 AM CHAIR SEATON, regarding Mr. Bannock's aforementioned statement that those involved with the Real ID Act are currently meeting to discuss the requirements of the Act, asked, "Do we have any indication of what other portions might be required under the issuance of these ID cards?" 8:35:38 AM MR. BANNOCK answered yes. He indicated that some of the issues being decided have to do with standardizations and layout of the items listed on driver's licenses and IDs. In response to a follow-up question from Chair Seaton asking if those decisions will be made necessary through statute or regulation, Mr. Bannock said they will be carried out through "some policy and regulation." He stated, "Right now we know of no other [statutorily] required changes other than what is before you." 8:36:37 AM REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG asked if there have been any court challenges at the state or federal level regarding the constitutionality of an illegal alien being unable to get a driver's license. 8:37:28 AM MR. BANNOCK answered that he is unaware of any such cases. 8:38:01 AM REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG explained his concern is that there have been challenges that state that children of illegal aliens cannot get an education. He said he thinks those cases were struck down on the grounds of equal protection. Barring an illegal alien from getting a driver's license that may be essential to his/her getting to a doctor, a school, or a job may be a denial of equal protection. 8:38:34 AM MR. BANNOCK replied that he cannot recall such a lawsuit. He noted that the federal Real ID Act does allow for an option that HB 290 does not take into consideration, and one which he said he would do his best to discourage: the availability of a state to issue a driver's license or ID that has not undergone the same scrutiny as described previously. He offered his understanding that the states of Utah and Virginia offer such a license, but do not allow it to be used as a form of identification. He said he knows of other states considering "a second tier of driver licensing," but he emphasized that he thinks that's poor public policy. 8:40:08 AM REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG offered his understanding that it is actually the states of Utah and Tennessee that offer the special driver's license, and the state of Virginia is considering the option. He continued: As I understand the basic concept of these laws, ... if you are an illegal alien you can get a license, but it will indicate on there clearly that this doesn't meet the requirement of federal law, you're an illegal alien, or something like that. Isn't that the basic concept? 8:41:06 AM MR. BANNOCK replied that that is an accurate statement. 8:41:17 AM CHAIR SEATON said California has been wresting with the problem of whether it is better to have [illegal aliens] take a driving test to ensure they can read signs and drive safely, or whether it is better to not have them come through the driver's license system. He said, of course, if those illegal aliens are conducting normal, everyday business, that means they are currently driving without any license. He asked Mr. Bannock if Alaska has experienced that problem. 8:42:11 AM MR. BANNOCK answered that there are no documented cases of such a problem. He continued: The reason for my ability to make that statement is that by regulation today - not by statute - ... we are governed by what document we may or may not take. And those documents are only [emphasis on the word "only"] documents that would be in the possession of ... person "A" - the United States citizen, [or] person "B" - a person here legally. 8:42:46 AM CHAIR SEATON recalled that during a previous hearing of the bill, there had been discussion about people needing to come from villages to renew their licenses. He stated, "And under this bill, you wouldn't be able to issue a renewal without that documentation, is that correct?" MR. BANNOCK answered in the affirmative. 8:43:10 AM REPRESENTATIVE GARDNER asked if it is accurate to say that if a person does not have a driver's license, he/she cannot get auto insurance. MR. BANNOCK answered that that is conventional wisdom, but he said he doesn't want to speak on behalf of the insurance industry. 8:43:39 AM REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG pointed out that a person doesn't have to have a driver's license to purchase auto insurance. For example, a person may own a car, but have a chauffeur do the driving. 8:44:23 AM MR. BANNOCK, in response to a remark by Chair Seaton, said he would bring the committee a fiscal note. 8:44:32 AM REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG told Mr. Bannock that he would like to see the fiscal note broken down into component parts. He said he would also like to know any potential for federal funding related to the Real ID Act and how long those funds would last. 8:45:31 AM MR. BANNOCK said the fiscal note will be $20,000. He stated that although the fiscal note will show that there may be other costs resulting from the Real ID Act, it will only be specific to the programming changes related to HB 290. CHAIR SEATON asked, "And it won't involve the training that's going to be required to ... ensure validity on the document?" MR. BANNOCK answered that's correct. CHAIR SEATON asked Mr. Bannock to show that exception in the fiscal note. 8:46:24 AM REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG said he would like to know "everything you know that's going to be involved in the implementation of this Act so we can really look at this systemically." 8:46:42 AM REPRESENTATIVE GATTO asked if there is a specific action that a DMV employee takes if he/she receives an application that looks like it has been forged. MR. BANNOCK answered yes. 8:47:11 AM MATTHEW KERR testified on behalf of himself in opposition to HB 290. His written testimony read as follows [original punctuation provided]: My name is Matthew Kerr and I am a small business owner from Anchorage here representing myself. With all due respect to Representative Lynn, I am here to state my strong opposition to HB 290, which would require more paperwork and bureaucracy to issue driver's licenses in Alaska. This bill has no benefit to our Great State or its residents. It's the worst of government for its own sake. This adds a useless paperwork burden to our residents, our foreign guests, and our DMV. I shouldn't need to remind you that the terrorists had perfectly valid foreign passports and US visas when they boarded the airplanes. This bill does not provide one single benefit to the residents of this state for all the money it would cost. The first obvious problem with this bill is the cost and difficulty involved in training our DMV agents to be immigration officers. If someone has an expired F-1 student visa, an I-94 entry form marked valid for "Duration of Status" instead of a particular end date, and an I-20 form indicating current enrollment at UAA, could you tell me if they are legally entitled to be here, and for how long? What about someone who renewed their passport while in the US, and no longer has their original visa? Under the proposed rules, a friend of mine would have needed to return to the DMV four times in the past five years to renew their license each time. Immigration paperwork can be extremely complex, and we shouldn't be wasting money to train our DMV agents on the finer points of immigration law. Second, a driver's license or identification card should be exactly that. A person's ability to drive legally has no logical connection to their immigration status. If I was a foreign visitor, I would skip the trouble, ignore the law, and just continue to use my foreign license for the full length of my stay, instead of obtaining an Alaska license after 90 days. This means that we actually lose the ability to fully maintain that person's driving record. In terms of identification, foreign passports are accepted just as widely as a state ID card. The only argument I have heard in favor of this bill is that our Alaska ID cards would possibly not be enough to board an airplane. I don't believe that aviation in Alaska would suddenly cease to function because of our driver's licenses. We should be fighting this kind of federal mandate; not giving in to it. Last Tuesday, New Hampshire passed NH House Bill 1582 specifically prohibiting their DMV from implementing these rules, calling them "repugnant to Amendments 4 through 10 of the United States Constitution." I agree with that assertion. However, the strongest argument against this bill cannot be quantified in financial figures and statistics. People that live here strongly value their privacy, and no Alaskan residents I know are in favor of this bill or increasing the level of bureaucracy at our DMV. This is a slight but unnecessary encroachment on my privacy and yours. I don't want to be asked for more papers when I go to renew my license. The current system isn't broken. Nobody wants this bill, and it has no benefits for us. It honestly disappoints me that a state that rightly prides itself so highly on personal rights could attempt to pass this legislation. Thank you for listening to my testimony. Please vote against this legislation. 8:50:48 AM MR. KERR, in response to questions from Representative Gatto, described the documentation he had to present to obtain his student identification card. He said the first time he registered was in 1992, and he does not recall being asked for his driver's license. He agreed that it is conceivable that he could have registered without proving he was whom he said, but that the university's regulations could have changed since 1992. 8:52:05 AM REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG asked for a copy of Mr. Kerr's written testimony. 8:52:21 AM MR. KERR, in response to a question from Representative Gatto, confirmed that he is testifying on behalf of himself; however, he said he travels internationally frequently and has many friends in Alaska and outside the state. In response to a follow-up question from Representative Gatto, he listed some of the reasons that spurred him to testify, including the DMV requirement to maintain a copy of a scanned birth certificate in a database. He said he is a database programmer, and the thought of that information being there scares him a little bit. He said one of the requirements of the Real ID Act is that all 50 states have direct electronic access to the state DMV records. Mr. Kerr said he can easily imagine a disgruntled DMV employee somewhere in Southern California getting ready to quit and deciding to do "a dump of the Alaska records and sell them on the Internet." He said he is sure the state has good security, but no system is perfect. The more information that is out there, the more tempting a target the system becomes, he concluded. 8:53:34 AM REPRESENTATIVE LYNN said even though he disagrees with Mr. Kerr, he thinks it is helpful to hear both sides of the issue. 8:54:42 AM CHAIR SEATON asked Mr. Bannock if people will have to submit the aforementioned documents upon renewing a driver's license. MR. BANNOCK indicated that Version Y would require documentation for renewals. He said, "We are attempting to develop a program right now that if we can verify with the data that we already have, when Representative Paul Seaton shows up at his Homer DMV to renew his driver's license, he will not be required to do that. That is one of the yet unanswered questions of the application by 2008." 8:55:56 AM CHAIR SEATON announced that HB 290 was heard and held.