ACLU arranged for the introduction of SB 536, with 27 bipartisan co-sponsors, including the chief sponsor, Sen. Rick Metsger (D-Mount Hood), Chair of the Senate Business and Transportation Committee. SB 536 prohibits Oregon from expending any additional funds to implement the federal Real ID Act until there are sufficient federal funds and adequate privacy protections are put in place.

Congress passed Real ID in 2005 without any debate or discussion, attaching it to an emergency appropriations bill for tsunami relief and Iraq war funding. Real ID would turn our driver licenses into national identification cards and require a nationwide shared DMV database. Across the country, ACLU has led the efforts to oppose Real ID because it raises significant privacy risks to all of us. 

Originally, states had to fully implement the requirements of Real ID by May 2008.  However, the Department of Homeland Security took years to issue draft regulations. When it did issue final regulations, the department delayed final implementation of Real ID until 2017. Not only are the compliance requirements imposed on states onerous, there have been minimal federal funds available for states to implement those requirements and no guidance for how states could provide security for the nationwide database required by the act.

In the 2007 session, ACLU introduced a bill identical to SB 536 as well as a resolution urging Congress to fix and fund Real ID. Caught up in the immigration controversy, our legislation ultimately failed to pass – even though there was broad bipartisan support. In 2008, following an executive order by Gov. Kulongoski, the Oregon legislature passed SB 1080 restricting access to Oregon driver licenses to persons who are U.S. citizens or can prove their lawful presence. ACLU opposed this effort because we believe that everyone on the road should be licensed and insured. 

However, with the passage of SB 1080, the privacy issues related to Real ID were once again ripe for discussion. While we were working to introduce legislation to stop Real ID, the Governor and the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) introduced SB 128, which would have moved Oregon toward full implementation of Real ID. That bill would have allowed DMV to “scan and store” copies of all original identifying documents (birth certificate, Social Security card, U.S. passport) and place that information in the proposed 50-state shared national database, effectively creating a “one-stop shop” for identity thieves seeking your personal identifying information.

As we noted above, SB 536 had 27 House and Senate Democratic and Republican co-sponsors. We would be remiss if we did not acknowledge the significant help we received not only from Sen. Metsger but also from Sen. Larry George (R-Sherwood) and Rep. Dennis Richardson (R-Central Point), who helped make this a truly bipartisan effort.

At the same time SB 536 was moving forward, SB 128 in its original form was not. Under Sen. Metsger’s direction, the Senate Transportation Committee removed all language related to further implementation of Real ID. SB 128 ultimately went forward only to provide technical fixes required by previous legislation. ACLU took no position on SB 128 once it was amended.

SB 536 passed on the Senate floor by a vote of 30-0. With momentum behind it, SB 536 was heard in House Transportation Committee and moved out of that committee unanimously. It passed the House floor 39-6, and no one spoke against it. Unfortunately, because SB 536 came to the floor near the end of session, 15 legislators, including a number of co-sponsors, were excused from the floor session for other legislative business. We know that if all 60 representatives had been present we likely would have had more than 50 “yes” votes. Gov. Kulongoski refused to sign SB 536 into law but allowed it to become law without his signature.

    Passed Senate: 30-0
    Passed House: 39-6
        **Scorecard Vote – Senate & House