- Associated Press - Friday, April 28, 2017

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) - Maine is ending its years of resistance to the federal Real ID law that legislators once warned would infringe on individual liberty.

Republican Gov. Paul LePage signed a law Friday that will bring Maine into federal compliance. It directs the secretary of state to issue driver’s licenses and identification cards that comply with the federal Real ID Act of 2005.

Maine had been one of just four states the federal government said didn’t comply with increased security standards for ID cards created following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. For years, Maine didn’t allow the state to comply with the law. The federal government, meanwhile, continued to extend the deadline for the state to comply.

The extensions ended in October, creating confusion among veterans trying access health clinics at Pease Air Force Base. Truck drivers had difficulty delivering shipments to the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery.

Without the new law, Maine driver’s licenses wouldn’t have been sufficient ID to board a commercial flight next year. With passage of the state law, LePage said the state has “been reassured” that Maine residents with the current driver’s license will be able to use them next year for flights.

The bill’s sponsor, Democratic Sen. Bill Diamond, said LePage’s move means “Mainers are no longer at a disadvantage, nor will we be an outlier as a state.”

The Secretary of State’s office has estimated it could cost up to $3 million to comply with the federal law.

The federal Real ID law has long received criticism for also requiring state governments to maintain copies of sensitive documents, including birth certificates and social security cards. Democratic Sen. Shenna Bellows and Republican Eric Brakey have said they want Republican President Donald Trump to reel back such requirements, which they call a one-stop shop for identity theft.

The new state law also allows Mainers to opt out and receive state-issued IDs that don’t comply with the federal law. But those IDs won’t be accepted by federal authorities, and can’t be used to board flights.

Democratic Rep Chellie Pingree said Maine’s “law isn’t perfect, but will be a huge load off people’s minds.


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