The House just passed HB 2136, which forces North Carolina NOT to comply with Real ID. There was no debate on the bill at its third reading today, which is surprising given the vigorous discussion about the measure yesterday. As Rep. Thomas (R-Buncombe) noted, this lack of debate about Real ID speaks to the primary problem at the General Assembly: a lack of transparency and honest dialogue.
Stated Thomas while making a point of personal privilege on the floor: “This procedure made a lot of members make a mistake. And we didn’t have to do it that way.” Speaker Hackney (D-Chatham) forbid Thomas from relaying new information about Real ID that he had just learned from the Department of Homeland Security.
Sponsored by Rep. Cole (D-Rockingham), the motion to not debate the measure passed 63 to 51. HB 2136 then passed by a vote of 69 to 45.
Cole is the primary sponsor of HB 2136, which forbids North Carolina from complying with Real ID. According to Cole, Real ID is an “unfunded mandate.” This is ironic coming from a member who has requested $11 million in earmarks during this past session, including $55,000 for a national banjo museum in Rockingham.
Indeed, illegal immigration — which Real ID would help prevent — is a far more costly unfunded mandate that Rep. Cole and others who oppose Real ID seem content to fund. According to economists with the National Bureau of Economic Research, “the net loss to U.S. natives from immigration was $68 billion” in 2002 alone.
Likewise, losses from identify theft — which Real ID would also help prevent — run $64 billion annually. Identity theft also victimizes 300,000 people a year in North Carolina.
According to the Fiscal Research Division, complying with Real ID will run $29.1 million through 2017. This is a lot of money — but it represents 0.015% of the current state budget.
In the end, it comes down to priorities, but as long as the House leadership does not permit genuine debate about these priorities nothing is going to change.
Read more about Real ID here.