The Legislative Hearings
First Hearing on HB685
This year's bill, HB685, had its first hearing on March 15 at 3pm in room 203 of the LOB with the Transportation committee.
Things started off well, the committee chairman said this bill highlighted the issue of state-federal power and federal interference in state issues and actions. He also commended everyone on their involvement and concern and thanked them for coming to the hearing.
So many of you showed up, that the hearing had to be moved to a bigger room! Pages and pages of blue sheets with names of everyone supporting the bill went to the committee by the time the hearing was over.
The bill's prime sponsor, Neal Kurk, started the testimony. He pointed out that Real ID is not about security, it is about control. He warned of it becoming a broad requirement for many activities beyond what is currently in the statute. "Real ID turns the constitution on its head and is unacceptable." The latest cost estimates for NH are $55M just to implement it [NCSL]. Other states have taken action via resolutions, but "I would like NH to be the first to pass a law prohibiting participation." He addressed those who brought up the 911 committee recommendations. In all 400 pages of the report, only 2 sentences mention licenses, and it doesn't mandate anything like Real ID.
Commissioner Sweeny spoke next. Motor Vehicles is concerned that the bill would prohibit any improvements. He is meeting with Kurk to work out an amendment to allow for necessary improvements for security and reliability and to determine eligability, but for NH's benefit and not an answer to any federal mandate. The last point was something the chair wanted to be clear on.
Other testimony covered problems Real ID presents for victims of domestic violence. Problems of past national databases, such as one the Netherlands created which was later used by the Nazis to round up everyone who might be a threat. First thing the Dutch did after the war was scrap the system and resolve to never do it again.
Beyond the cost is the data storage and access problem. Which is made doubly important since DHS does not require any encryption of the stored images of our birth certificates, paystubs, tax records and whatever else the state DMVs may be asked to require of us.
We should not hand such power over to unelected bureaucrats. The committee was asked "What about the costs of additional personnel to deal with longer lines and the document processing? Plus the longer wait for documents and the license itself. How much could it inconvenience our lives? Are post offices covered by the 'federal building' rule?"
Is Congress responsible enough to take on another big project like this on top of everything else they are mismanaging from the border to health care?
One citizen pointed out that in the 1980s NH sent an affirmation of state sovereignty to the federal government. We haven't rescinded it. We also learned that Ghandi encouraged people not to carry such cards in India and South Africa.
There were people who declared they would not take a license under Real ID, regardless of the inconvenience it may cause. Christians testified that they could not take a national ID card and be true to their faith.
Some other good questions: How much data will be stolen before it is realized? How soon will these new ID cards be available on the black market?
Someone from Russia talked about her experiences with their national ID cards, from registering all their travel to being stopped and going to jail just for not having their papers.
Near the end of the hearing someone summed it up nicely with "Real ID is real invasive, real red tape, and real expensive."
After an hour of testimonty, the hearing was closed. Several of us gathered afterwards to discuss what happened and what may be next. We'll be posting any votes or future meetings here on GraniteStateID.com to keep you informed.
There was a long line to sign the blue sheets in favor of the bill.
There was an overflow crowd of people who came to the hearing.
Neal Kurk starting the testimony on the bill.
The next hearing for the bill will be in the Senate on May 16th at 1:30pm in room 103 of the State House. Please be there if you can to show your support.