- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 21, 2007

ANNAPOLIS - State Republicans said yesterday the Democratic-controlled General Assembly is using cost as an excuse to kill a bill that would keep illegal aliens from getting a Maryland driver’s license.

“That’s something the opponents are running,” said Delegate Ronald A. George, Anne Arundel County Republican and sponsor of the House bill.

The proposal would have brought Maryland in compliance with the federal Real ID Act, which requires drivers to prove they legally live in the United States before being granted a driver’s license. However, the House and Senate appear ready to kill the measure.

Critics say the plan will cost the state $150 million and increase the cost of a Maryland driver’s license to $190.

Mr. George and other state Republican lawmakers said that is a worst-case scenario that fails to include the state already owns much of the equipment to accommodate such a change.

“I think it’s a terrible problem that we have: People who are more concerned about how the illegal aliens feel than the safety of Maryland residents,” said Sen. Janet Greenip, Anne Arundel County Republican and chief sponsor of the Senate proposal.

Maryland is one of seven states that does not require applicants to show “legal presence” to obtain a license.

Advocates for illegal aliens said the state is facing too large a fiscal crisis to pass the proposal this year. “Real ID is too expensive, too onerous and too complicated for Maryland to do this in a rush,” said Kim Propeack, spokeswoman for CASA of Maryland.

Mr. George and Mrs. Greenip said they expect the measure to be killed in committee.

“We’ve got a committee chairman who is not keen on it,” Mr. George said.

Maryland has until May 2008 to comply with the act but may apply for a waiver that would last until December 2009.

Barring illegal aliens from obtaining driver’s licenses became an even bigger issue for many state lawmakers after an Iraq war veteran was killed in a car accident involving an illegal alien in Howard County on Thanksgiving.

Police arrested Eduardo Raul Morales-Soriano, 25, an illegal alien from Mexico, and charged him with drunken driving and two counts each of vehicular homicide and manslaughter while intoxicated in the crash that killed Cpl. Brian Mathews of Columbia, Md.

If Maryland does not comply with the act, state driver’s licenses would no longer be accepted identification for entrance into federal buildings or travel on airplanes.

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