Legislature(2001 - 2002)
04/23/2002 03:45 PM STA
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 344-INCREASE DRIVER'S LICENSE/PERMIT FEES MS. SYLVESTER said that HB 344 was introduced by the House Rules Committee at the request of the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV). HB 344 increases the fees for drivers' licenses and ID cards by $5.00 and learners' permits by $10.00. It allows DMV to implement a conversion to a digital drivers' licensing system. Examples of what a drivers' license might look like were in the packets. She pointed out that the information on the drivers' licenses is stipulated in statute and this bill would not have any impact on that. The back of the license would have a barcode that would allow the police to scan and protect the licensee from having their private details broadcast. She said the fee increase would go into the General Fund and is expected to increase revenues by $750,000 to $900,000. The cost of implementing the conversion is expected to be $500,000, which is for the computer systems only. DMV already has the funds for the equipment. She said that Alaska is one of the three remaining states still using the old Polaroid personal identification system. By converting, Alaska will step up its efforts to ensure the integrity of this nation's individual identification system. Since September 11, there has been focus on the need to harden the drivers' license system as a security measure. There was discussion about switching to a national identification system, but that idea was abandoned. However, there is still a need for increased security and Alaska's identification system is a weak point. She explained that the ID card is considered to be a "breeder document," which can be parlayed into other documents such as airline tickets, passports, checking accounts, firearms permits, credit cards, etc. The drivers' license is the cornerstone of the identity theft phenomenon, which resulted in $7 billion in losses last year. She said another problem with the current system is underage individuals obtaining or manufacturing fraudulent identification cards. The packet contains resolutions and comments from restricted sales individuals who support the conversion of the system. MS. SYLVESTER explained that the drivers' license has become a critical component in our society's security, both personal and financial. The State of Alaska has a responsibility to ensure the integrity of that system. Yet there is a lot of anecdotal information about how the identification cards can be fraudulently obtained. DMV doesn't have the ability to pull up photographs. Someone can easily steal your Social Security Number or mail and go into the DMV and if they match your biometric data, they can walk out with your identification. If you travel and you lose your license or have it stolen, DMV is also unable to replace your lost identification with your photograph. This makes it very difficult to get back to Alaska without one of the only proofs that the airline will consider as an identification form. She said Polaroid is in Chapter 11 bankruptcy and has sold their personal identification business to a company called Digimark, who will only supply Alaska with film until the end of the year. The other two states that still use the Polaroid system, Oklahoma and Rhode Island, have already put out RFP's for digital systems. This will also impair Alaska's ability to get commercial-grade Polaroid film. She said that when digital cameras came onto the market, it was the death knell of the old Polaroid drivers' license system. CHAIRMAN THERRIAULT asked Mary Marshburn to speak. MS. MARY MARSHBURN, Director of DMV, said that when DMV started pursuing a digital system, there were seven "photo states," meaning states that still use the instant photograph process. At the beginning of the session, there were only three "photo states." Now Alaska is the only state without even a RFP out for services for a digital licensing system. She said the current system is a manual process; it uses preprinted forms, instant photographs and a laminated security pouch. It is subject to theft, fraud and alteration. Security is the biggest advantage to a digital system. It is more difficult to alter or replicate because it does not use preprinted forms or pouches or instant photos. The information is computer generated and fused onto a chip. Computer generation and flexibility enables DMV to place more and more complex security features into the license. The photo can be stored on a server, which allows DMV personnel to access it to verify your identity the next time you need a license or when you travel. MS. MARSHBURN said the biggest benefactor of a conversion would be law enforcement. HB 344 enjoys the support of law enforcement, including the Alaska State Troopers and the Municipality of Anchorage Police Department, which is computerizing its cars and are looking forward to the change. Alcohol and tobacco sellers are also in support of HB 344 because a new system can help them with their underage problem. CHAIRMAN THERRIAULT asked if people regularly came up to the counter at DMV to commit license fraud and alteration. MS. MARSHBURN said that in the past four months in one Anchorage office alone they have had five arrests. CHAIRMAN THERRIAULT asked if there would be an embedded chip or just a barcode. MS. MARSHBURN said that although the disc upon which the image and license data is fused is referred to as a "chip," it is not a "chip" as we think of a computer chip. CHAIRMAN THERRIAULT asked whether the barcode contained the information or if it contained the license number that would access the information through the computer system. MS. MARSHBURN asked if he was looking at the example in the packet. CHAIRMAN THERRIAULT said yes. MS. MARSHBURN said that the barcode would contain all of the information required by law, such as name, address, date of birth, sex, hair, eyes and weight, along with any driving restrictions, but not the Social Security Number. CHAIRMAN THERRIAULT pointed out that the underage license examples in the packet were laid out vertically. He asked if this was the intention of DMV to do this. MS. MARSHBURN said she was excited to have the licenses be formatted that way. DMV wants to keep the adult licenses in a horizontal format and the underage licenses in a vertical format. It helps everyone who has to deal with the age group. She noted that the vertical license says "under 21 until" along the top. With the current system, the alcohol or tobacco salesperson has to look at the birth date and calculate the age, which can be difficult and time consuming. Using the "under 21 until" system would be much easier for them. CHAIRMAN THERRIAULT asked if there were other questions for Ms. Marshburn from the committee members. He asked if Del Smith had comments or if he was just there to answer questions. DEPUTY COMMISSIONER DEL SMITH, Department of Public Safety, said he was there to answer questions. SENATOR PHILLIPS asked if Social Security Numbers were off the drivers' license now. MS. MARSHBURN said they were. As of last year, Social Security Numbers were not allowed on the face of the drivers' licenses, nor would they be in the barcode. CHAIRMAN THERRIAULT pointed out that the increased fees would cause increased revenues of $900,000 and the contractual IT system cost would be $500,000 the first year. SENATOR PHILLIPS asked Ms. Marshburn if DMV would take responsibility for the fees being raised and not tell complaining customers that the Legislature did this. MS. MARSHBURN said yes. The fees are equal to $1.00 per year, and they were last raised eleven years ago. She has no qualms saying it is well worth it. SENATOR PHILLIPS said he'd been through this before where the employees said the Legislature did it. MS. MARSHBURN promised that wouldn't happen. CHAIRMAN THERRIAULT asked if there was anyone else that wished to testify on HB 344. There was no one. He asked if there were any amendments from committee members. SENATOR BETTYE DAVIS moved to pass CS HB 334 (STA) from the committee with individual recommendations and the accompanying fiscal note. CHAIRMAN THERRIAULT asked if there were any objections. CSHB 334(STA) moved from committee with attached fiscal note and individual recommendations.