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Adkisson: Legislative inaction costs taxpayers

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The Pennsylvania Legislature is among the nations’ most prolific procrastinators.

I wrote last week about their dishonest approach to the state budget — building in revenue estimates that have no basis in reality. And worse yet, continuing to shrug off their responsibility to fix the ever-worsening state pension funding, which is now estimated to be $65 billion to $70 billion underfunded.

Lawmakers have been aware of the issue for 20 years or more and have only made it worse by sweetening their own pension plan as recently as the early 2000s.

But I digress ...

Legislative dereliction is also evident in the Real ID Act compliance.

In short, the federal government passed legislation in 2005, and has since modified it, to compel states to create a new, more secure, driver’s license.

In the name of enhanced security at the borders, airports, and federal facilities, the feds want all states to develop a more secure license that is less susceptible to counterfeiting and fraud. Similarly, the credit card companies have moved from magnetic strips to chip cards.

Many frequent travelers have a U.S. issued passport that serves the Real ID purpose, but for most Americans the cost and wait time for a passport that may never be used for travel outside the U.S. is simply impractical.

It is not as if the feds gave states a short window to act. From the time of passage to the first implementation dates, the Department of Homeland Security provided six years notice.

Only 12 of the 50 states were in compliance with interstate sharing of their ID database as of January 2017. Another 14 states were in compliance with DHS criteria, but not the Real ID database.

Pennsylvania is among another 25 states and U.S. territories to be granted yet another extension, to mid-2018. Perhaps our state legislators find comfort that five states — Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana and Washington — have done even less than the Keystone state.

Excuses run the usual gamut, including cost, overreach/big brother, forcing states to do the feds work etc. ...

But let’s get real. With a legislative majority party whose candidate ran on the ideas of a border wall, a travel ban for majority Muslim countries, and a huge spike in funding for the military and DHS, making an issue of the enhanced license is hypocritical.

Voters are correct to assume that what matters most to the Pennsylvania Legislature is getting re-elected and collecting a sweet pension.


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