Lawmakers OK New Driver's License To Ease Border Crossings

Posted on Friday, March 23 at 11:37 by jensonj
The optional new license will incorporate proof of citizenship and Washington residency and allow search of federal databanks, including criminal records. The licenses would cost $40 and would have to be picked up in person at a driver's license office, starting in January. The state House approved them earlier. Michael Chertoff, secretary of homeland security, and Gregoire are expected to sign papers in Seattle on Friday to allow the state to use the enhanced licenses as the country's first pilot project to test a cheaper, secure alternative to passports, Gregoire spokeswoman Holly Armstrong said after the Senate vote. "The state of Washington has put forward a very innovative proposal and Homeland Security has been excited about this from the get-go," said Homeland Security spokesman Russ Knocke. "We appreciate the balancing of seccurity with efficiency and we think this proposal has a lot of merit." He said other states may follow Washington's lead. "The governor proposed the pilot project because with all the talk of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, there was a concern about the impact on tourism and economic ties, particularly with the (2010 Winter) Olympics coming up" in Vancouver and Whistler, B.C., Armstrong said. "She understands the need to look at security issues and to address those, but she and Premier (Gordon) Campbell believe there is a better way to do this, an alternative to the burdensome and expensive requirement for passports."


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