On April 18, Gov. Chris Gregoire signed a bill passed overwhelmingly by both state houses blocking implementation of the federal government's Real ID Act in Washington. The federal act would create what is in essence America's first national identity card using driver's licenses that could be embedded with computer chips and biometric information, such as fingerprints. It has been proposed that such cards be required of every citizen who wants to drive, access government buildings, apply for federal benefits, or fly on commercial aircraft. Management of the vast databases would fall to each state's department of motor vehicles – in Washington's case, the Department of Licensing. Washington officially joins a growing rebellion of states that have voted not to implement Real ID. The others are Maine, Arkansas, Idaho, and Montana. A broad, bipartisan coalition of legislators and groups across the ideological spectrum oppose the act as either too expensive, too unwieldy, or too intrusive. More details of problems with Real ID can be found here and here. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer quoted Gregoire at the signing ceremony as saying: This is another unfunded mandate from the federal government and, even worse, it doesn't protect the privacy of the citizens of Washington. The American Civil Liberties Union of Washington has been pushing to block Real ID. The ACLU nationally has been fanning the flames of rebellion. The group's legislative director, Jennifer Shaw, said in a press release: "Lawmakers from both parties took a strong stand against Real ID. It would threaten personal privacy, as well as create a bureaucratic nightmare to implement." Real ID differs from the Gregoire-backed enhanced Washington driver's license program. Those licenses have radio-chip tracking features, but they are strictly voluntary. The pilot project is aimed at providing ID that would meet federal standards for crossing the border into Canada. Still, there are security concerns about the chip technology. With Washington, Idaho, and Montana in full secession mode, what is the mood in Oregon and Alaska? In Oregon, Gov. Ted Kulongoski stated in early April that he supports implementation of Real ID, though other lawmakers are skeptical. But he's not alone. According to an article in The Oregonian: In Oregon, many Republicans, including House Minority Leader Wayne Scott of Canby, back the Real ID Act as a way to keep Oregon driver's licenses out of the hands of illegal immigrants. But other legislators oppose the law for reasons including its chilling effect on Oregon's agriculture industry, which relies on immigrant labor, to its Big Brother implications. Nearly all complain that Congress has unfairly stuck states with the bill to carry out the federal act – an estimated $65 million over six years for Oregon alone. Two Republican-sponsored anti-Real ID measures are pending in the Oregon legislature – HB 2827 and HJM 11. In Alaska, a privacy-rights group has sued the state for implementing Real ID standards without approval from the state Legislature. The Anchorage Daily News opposes Real ID: Alaska's Division of Motor Vehicles already has adopted new regulations requiring stricter documentation for newly arrived residents applying for driver's licenses. No longer does another state's license stand for proof of identification and legal status. New Alaskans must have documents proving their legal name, birth date, address and Social Security number, and a secondary proof of identification. Privacy advocates have sued the state, arguing it has no authority to implement the regulations without legislative approval. Lawmakers could get that chance with House Bill 3, working its way through the process. We hope the suit succeeds. Even better, we hope the Legislature makes the suit moot by turning down Real ID and its stricter license requirements, a bad idea that caught a ride into law on a 2005 appropriations bill for the war in Iraq and tsunami relief. Rejected by Congress in 2004, REAL ID passed in the budget bill without a single hearing. That's probably the only way it could have passed. A resolution calling for the repeal of Real ID is pending in the Alaska Legislature, and an ACLU spokesman rated its chance of passage as "good."