Governor LePage Encourages Maine Legislature to Unite and Pass Real ID to Help All Mainers

March 30, 2017

For Immediate Release: Thursday, March 30, 2017
Contact: Adrienne Bennett, Press Secretary, 207-287-2531

AUGUSTA – While vetoing one bill relating to the REAL ID law, Governor Paul R. LePage today requested Maine legislators to pass a bill sponsored by Sen. Bill Diamond (D-Windham), LD 306, "An Act To Require State Compliance with Federal REAL ID Guidelines," which would help all Mainers, including veterans adversely affected by REAL ID. Currently, Maine is one of four states that are not in compliance with the REAL ID law.

Governor LePage encouraged Maine lawmakers to unite in order to help all Maine citizens, “While there appear to be reasonable arguments on both sides of the REAL ID debate, due to the federal insistence on enforcing its harsh terms, and a complete lack of interest or perhaps will in Congress to amend or repeal the REAL ID Act, I believe we, as elected state officials, must unite in going forward with implementation.”

REAL ID, enacted by Congress in 2005, prohibits federal agencies from accepting for official purposes driver’s licenses and identification cards issued by states that do not meet the law’s standards for secure issuance and production.

In a veto letter by Governor LePage due Friday, the Governor explained why he cannot support LD 213 “An Act To Provide Funds for Access for Veterans Seeking Health Care.” Governor LePage is discouraged our veterans are adversely affected by Maine’s lack of compliance with REAL ID.

“Though I agree with the sentiment to help veterans seeking medical care, we cannot forget all the other groups that have experienced problems due to REAL ID. I respectfully urge the Legislature to not provide case by case carve outs for groups being effected by REAL ID. Rather my advice to the Legislature is to speedily pass LD 306, "An Act To Require State Compliance with Federal REAL ID Guidelines" which would help all Mainers adversely affected by REAL ID,” Governor LePage wrote. “Because this bill proposes only a limited fix to a much larger, much more complex issue, I cannot support it. For this reason, I return LD 213 unsigned and vetoed. I strongly urge the Legislature to sustain it,” he concluded.

Brigadier General Douglas A. Farnham Adjutant General, Maine National Guard and Commissioner for the Department of Defense, Veterans and Emergency Management said, “While appreciative of the Legislature's desire to help Veteran's obtain REAL ID compliant passport cards, the bill calls for Maine Bureau of Veteran Services to make financial hardship determinations and gather data from HIPAA protected federal medical facilities, processes that are currently not established. This is an access issue for all Veterans and Maine citizens. We need to pass LD 306 and fix the REAL ID problem for all Mainers.

In February, Governor LePage wrote to the Trump Administration requesting an extension in order to alleviate some of the problems veterans are experiencing with Maine’s noncompliance of REAL ID and more time for Maine to adhere to the law.