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Floridians are more important than felons

January 15, 2014
Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

To the editor:

If you've tried to renew your driver license since January 2010, you've encounter the federal REAL ID law as enacted by the Florida Legislature in 2008. This law was in response to 19 Middle Eastern males that attacked our country 12 years ago. The law requires citizens to produce numerous documents to re-prove who they are even though no one suspects them of being someone else. If you're a woman that has ever been married or divorced, you're likely painfully aware of the costly numerous documents you must produce in order to just renew your license. A lady recently contacted me and told me the government had lost her paperwork so she could not renew the license she'd had here for decades. Without it, she can't drive or work. Incidentally, a driver license is a document for the I-9 employment form required due to the federal E-Verify law that gives the government the power to say who can work.

I've worked over the past three years to rid Florida of this bad law that hurts so many citizens. Politicians such as Gov. Rick Scott tell me there is nothing they can do, as it is a federal law. Yet states such as Montana flatly refused to comply. Then there are states like Ohio that did comply and discovered the privacy and other issues for their citizens and backed out. In addition, not one terror plot has been foiled by having citizen's documents scanned into a state database, and the law has cost states millions of dollars.

Our Legislature has given some people driver license relief. In early 2013, a bill to give foreign tourists relief from an international driver license law was filed, passed, and signed by Gov. Scott in 21 days. Later in that same session, a bill to give relief to certain illegal aliens (thanks to "deferred action" letters from the same federal government that gave us REAL ID) passed the Legislature 151-2. It was then vetoed by Gov. Scott, but has been re-filed for 2014.

The latest people scheduled to get relief are convicted felons. A pair of bills in the Florida Legislature would waive fees for inmates being released from prison and use tax dollars to help them obtain out of state documents needed to obtain a REAL ID license. These bills will be heard next Thursday January 9. Floridians should pack the meeting rooms and tell the legislators it's time they helped us.

Who do our legislators represent? None of the above groups of people can vote for them, yet all have enjoyed representation from our legislators.

It is time our legislators and Rick Scott "got to work" and gave Floridians relief from the mess that is REAL ID. Floridians are more important than felons. We live and (try) to work here.

Paul Henry


Floridians Against REAL ID




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