Ohio bill intended to ease travel burdens for truckers, others

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 7/25/2017

A bill halfway through the Ohio statehouse would simplify border crossings for truckers and others.

The House voted 90-4 to advance a bill that would make available enhanced driver’s licenses for Ohio residents. The licenses would be available for commercial drivers, motorists, and identification cards.

Enhanced licenses and ID cards are issued by states to provide proof of identity and citizenship. An alternative to traveling with a passport, the federally approved identification is available for people crossing borders between the U.S., Canada, Mexico or Caribbean.

According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the top 39 land ports of entry, which process more than 95 percent of land border crossings, are equipped with radio frequency identification technology to expedite travel for someone who provides an enhanced driver’s license or other RFID-enabled documents.

The states of Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Vermont and Washington already offer enhanced driver’s licenses. The Canadian provinces of British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec also make the licenses available.

Ohio state Rep. John Rogers, D-Mentor-on-the-Lake, said that enhanced licenses would be a completely optional form of identification for Ohioans.

Eligible applicants would be able to obtain an enhanced license for an additional $25 fee.

Rep. Steve Hambley, R-Brunswick, added that the bill would expedite commerce and travel for Ohio drivers.

“Not only would it make travel into Canada and Mexico for Ohioans quicker, but it would also do so in a secure manner,” Hambley said in prepared remarks. “This legislation is a win for Ohio commercial and recreational travelers.”

Critics say criminals could access personal information transmitted by the license. Some civil liberties advocates say they are concerned that the government could use the technology to track citizens.

Speaking on the House floor, Hambley addressed the privacy concern.

“There is no personal identifiable information stored on the card’s RFID chip.”

Hambley said the card uses a unique ID number that links to a secure Department of Homeland Security database.

HB60 awaits further consideration in the Senate Local Government, Public Safety and Veterans Affairs Committee.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Ohio, click here.

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