N.H. Lawmakers Look for Ways To Comply With Federal ID Laws

Sep 23, 2015

New Hampshire lawmakers plan to reopen the debate on whether the state should comply with federal personal identification laws. This comes after the U.S. Department of Homeland Security signaled it plans to strongly enforce compliance starting in 2016.

Currently, New Hampshire is one of four states -- including New York, Minnesota and Louisiana -- that do not abide by the federal Real ID program.

In 2007, New Hampshire enacted a law prohibiting state participation in Real ID due to privacy concerns. Real ID requires that states share personal identification information with the federal government for national security purposes.

A new bill, filed by Rep. Sherman Packard of Londonderry, would make compliance optional. But those who do not apply for a Real ID license by 2020 will have to undergo extra screenings at airports or get a passport.

“Instead of having to make a family of four go out and spend $600 on passports, they can get a Real ID compliant license," Packard said. "If they don’t want to, they don’t have to."

Packard said representatives from Homeland Security have promised that if the state passes compliant legislation by 2016, residents looking to get a Real ID will have a grace period until their driver’s license expires.

Gov. Maggie Hassan supported legislation aiming to abide by Real ID laws earlier this year, and said in a statement this week that she continues "to urge the Legislature and our federal delegation to find a common-sense solution that will not require Granite Staters to obtain a federal passport in order to enter secure facilities or to travel on airplanes."