Real ID, version 2

Nevada residents are organizing to try to stop a Democratic version of Real ID, the federal law that requires states to issue driver licenses that constitute a national identification card.

Nevada activists are asking opponents of the program to contact Clark County Sen. Dennis Nolan, who will chair a panel on the issue at the national convention of the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL).

An email alert being sent out in Reno reads, “REAL ID by any other name is still an invasion of our privacy! REAL ID, a national identification program and frightening affront to our civil liberties, is being ‘reworked’ as PASS ID. … PLEASE URGE SENATOR NOLAN TO OPPOSE THIS RESOLUTION!!! IT IS THE WRONG THING FOR NEVADA AND IT IS THE WRONG THING FOR THE COUNTRY!!!”

NCSL is an organization that represents state legislators and in the past has gotten involved in some very hot political issues. In the 1970s, for instance, it organized an effort to get state legislatures to convene a U.S. constitutional convention and nearly succeeded.

Its staff has endorsed Pass ID, the Obama administration version of Real ID, but NCSL’s actual lawmaker members have not. The panel chaired by Nolan could result in such an endorsement.

Since enactment of Real ID on May 10, 2005, and its approval the next day by George W. Bush, there have been two efforts conducted to try to repeal it. Privacy advocates want Real ID repealed outright because of its dangers to personal privacy. State legislators and agency chiefs also want it repealed but tend to be motivated by its high cost and disruption of existing driver license procedures and are willing to accept other remedies than repeal.

Pass ID is less onerous than Real ID, but still mandates the one-size-fits-all driver licenses by every state that privacy advocates oppose. Nolan, a Republican, supported Real ID, so he would likely have no problem with Pass ID.

Pass ID, like Real ID, is attracting an unusual left/right coalition of privacy groups, such as the American Civil Liberties Union and the Christian right Rutherford Institute.

Real ID might never have passed in the first place if U.S. Senate Democrats had followed through on a plan to filibuster to prevent its inclusion as a rider in a troop funding bill. But U.S. Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada would not permit the filibuster because he believed it would make Democrats look bad for opposing troop funding.