Mo. lawmakers to review driver’s licenses

Missouri House Speaker Tim Jones said Thursday he will be “fast-tracking” newly proposed legislation that would bar copying of birth certificates and other personal documents needed for a driver’s license.

Attention to the handling of such documents comes after a lawsuit was filed in southeastern Missouri by a man who sought to update his driver’s license to include an endorsement to carry a concealed weapon. According to the lawsuit filed in Stoddard County, Eric Griffin was told at the local license office his application, birth certificate and documents to prove his residency would be scanned and saved in the Department of Revenue’s system.

The lawsuit was announced during a news conference at the state Capitol attended by Jones and Republican Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder. Stoddard County Prosecutor Russell Oliver is Griffin’s private attorney for the case.

Legislation proposed this week in the House would prohibit the Department of Revenue from retaining copies of documents presented by people seeking a driver’s license and from using technology to capture a digital image of them. The Revenue Department would have until Sept. 11 to destroy documents that have been obtained.

The Department of Revenue recently changed Missouri driver’s licenses and the process for issuing them to reduce risk for identity theft and fraud. Changes began at local license offices in December and are being rolled out at about 15 offices each week. The new procedure also calls for licenses to be mailed.

A spokesman for the agency has said “the department’s operations are not inconsistent with the statutory protocols.”

Jones said he will be “fast-tracking” the House legislation to Committee on Government Oversight and Accountability whose chairman has said he plans to investigate.

“There’s a lot more to be looked into here, and we’re just at the very beginning steps of the process,” said Jones, R-Eureka.

The lawsuit alleges personal and private information about Missouri residents is being collected, retained and disseminated to a third party and the federal government. Oliver said it seems to be an effort to comply with the federal Real ID Act of 2005. Congress passed the Real ID law because of national security fears. One hijacker-pilot involved in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks had four driver’s license and ID cards from three states.

The federal law has prompted cost and privacy concerns. And Missouri passed a 2009 statute prohibiting the state from changing driver’s license application procedures to comply with the Real ID law. It also requires state government to protect residents’ privacy.


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