N.H. House Okays Bill Making Federal Real ID Licenses Optional

Feb 11, 2016

New Hampshire is one step closer to complying with a federal identification law known as Real ID. That’s after the House Thursday overwhelmingly passed a bill making it optional for people to get Real ID licenses. 

New Hampshire along with three other states has been able to opt out of this program since it began in 2005. But now the feds are requiring states start following the law. 

Although many lawmakers expressed privacy concerns on the floor Thursday, Republican Steven Smith of Charlestown told his colleagues New Hampshire has no choice but to follow the law. “We are not going to repeal Real Id – we are New Hampshire state representatives – we are not Congress,” Smith said.

Republican Neal Kurk, who’s a strong privacy advocate , even supported the bill, which makes participation optional. “New Hampshire tries to protect the privacy of its citizens – the amendment that we adopted is an opt in, so that information will only be in the database for people who want Real Id compliant licenses," Kurk said on the floor.

But if you don’t get a Real ID license by 2020 you will need a passport to fly - even domestically. 

The bill next heads to the Ways and Means Committee. 

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