Beginning on October 1, Virginians will be able to obtain through the local offices of the Department of Motor Vehicles a REAL ID that complies with federal regulations to prove their identity. While having state-issued, federally-approved identification to prove who you are is offensive to many, the practical use of the REAL ID will result in most if not all complying with its requirements.
The REAL ID came about from recommendations of the 9/11 Commission studying ways to improve security to prevent other horrible terrorist acts from happening. Half of the September 11 hijackers had received driver’s licenses in Virginia. Congress passed an act to help prevent terrorist attacks and to reduce the number of licenses issued to undocumented residents. It established the requirements for states to follow in issuing driver’s licenses, and the program is implemented by the Department of Homeland Security. Under the congressionally passed law, states are required to issue licenses only to applicants who provide in-person proof of their identity and legal U.S. residency. The new cards must use the latest counterfeit-resistant security features.
Half the states are now in compliance with the new federal law, and others like Virginia have been working hard to put the new system into place. Beginning in the fall of 2020, persons who want to board a commercial flight must present a REAL ID or an alternative form of acceptable identification. Likewise, persons entering federal facilities must present a REAL ID. The DMV-issued credential will meet the requirement of REAL ID and will allow holders to access federal buildings, including military installations, and board commercial flights.
Obtaining a REAL ID when you renew your driver’s license is voluntary. That is what I intend to do. I do not want to have to remember to make a special trip to the DMV in the future to prove my identity for a REAL ID when I can do it as part of renewing my driver’s license.
To get a REAL ID you must apply in person and provide DMV with physical documentation of identity, such as an unexpired U.S. passport or a U.S. birth certificate and provide your legal presence through the same documentation. And yes, there is an additional one-time fee of $10 to help pay for the new cards. Hopefully you can visit a DMV office when they are not too busy. But you do need to go in person and take the time to meet the requirements.
Important news for those who do not drive and hence do not have a driver’s license: You can get a REAL ID through the same process just described to use for entering federal facilities, boarding commercial flights and voting.
Need more information? The DMV website is filled with full details. Check my interview with Commissioner Rick Holcomb of the DMV on YouTube after October 10 or watch it on Reston Comcast Channel 28 for public service programming or Verizon Channel 1981 at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, October 23 or at 10:30 p.m. on Wednesday, October 24.
The only common requirement for holding elective office is that one be a registered voter in the state meaning then of course that you must be at least 18 years of age.
You do not need to be a resident of the district you hope to represent although you will have to move into the district if you win. The concept of a citizen legislature is that it is made up of people from all walks of life in the community who can collectively speak for the community at large.
Supposedly there would be no professional politicians–just regular every-day folks. Such an approach should work out well to have the community broadly represented.
In the past, because of laws and practices, most legislatures have been filled mostly with old white men. Recent years have seen a shift including in Virginia as more women are running for office and getting elected. This year has more women, young people, and people of color running than ever before.
With the diversification of who sits in the legislature the challenge becomes taking people of many different backgrounds, perspectives and constituencies and bringing them together to work for consensus on legislation to get a majority vote. While skills acquired in business and civic activities teach many of the soft skills of interpersonal relationships and team building that are transferable to a legislative body, there are unique differences that are important to recognize.
Most legislatures with whom I am familiar have orientation programs to acquaint new members with where the bathrooms are, rules of order in committee meetings and on the floor, and operating procedures around the capitol. Putting legislation together, developing a strategy for its passage, and keeping constituents back home happy are most often handled by the political party caucuses or helpful mentors.
Another source of in-service training I have found invaluable are conferences put together by professional associations, specifically the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). I am at their national conference this week. NCSL keeps up with what is happening in state capitols around the country and through publications, conferences and consultancy keeps legislators informed. The association is truly non-partisan, although its leadership–chosen from among state legislators across the country–maintain their party allegiance while the staff is able to stay out of the partisanship.
Virginia of course had the first representative legislature in the western world beginning in 1619. Not everyone followed the Virginia model however in writing their constitution of organizing their legislatures. I continue to be amazed as I work with colleagues from around the country as to the number of different ways that legislative bodies can organize themselves and do their business. No one has a corner on the best way to do the people’s business, but we can learn from taking a look at how other states conduct their business.
NCSL refers to the states as the laboratories of democracy. The description is appropriate as we all face mostly the same challenges. Our responses are different, however. By getting together for what some would call a conference, but what I think is more appropriately called in-service training, we can do a better job for the people we represent.
As the federal government inches closer to a possible shutdown at the end of the week, Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) says the local economy would be severely affected if no agreement is found.
“As we witnessed during the 2013 Republican government shutdown, Northern Virginia’s economy would be significantly affected. That 16-day shutdown cost nearly $24 billion in lost economic output,” Connolly said in a prepared statement Monday. “It is a reckless way to govern that hurts all Americans and must be avoided.”
The 2013 shutdown is estimated to have cost more than $217 million per day in federal and contractor wages in D.C. metropolitan area. In addition to a large number of federal employees, Reston is home to many government contractors including Leidos, which said in a statement to investors earlier this year that a shutdown could “result in our incurrence of substantial labor or other costs without reimbursement under customer contracts, or the delay or cancellation of key programs, which could have a negative effect on our cash flows and adversely affect our future results.”
Connolly put the blame for a potential government shutdown squarely on the shoulders of House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.):
“If Speaker Ryan wants to resort to hostage-taking over a border wall, then Republicans will own this shutdown,” the congressman said. “If he is willing to work with Democrats and pass a clean funding measure, however, then I am confident we can keep government open and working for our constituents.”
Tuesday is Election Day, and Virginia voters will go to the polls to elect a governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, sheriff and state delegate. Voters in Fairfax County will also vote Yes or No on a $250 million school bond issue.
With Terry McAuliffe leading in the polls, will voters return a Democrat to the Governors Mansion in Richmond? Or will Virginia Attorney Ken Cuccinelli head the commonwealth?
And what impact will Libertarian Robert Sarvis, who has been polling with about 10 percent, have on the outcome of the governor’s race?
In Reston, longtime Virginia Del. Ken Plum (D-36th) is running unopposed. In the nearby 86th District, newcomer Jennifer Boysko (D) is taking on incumbent Republican Tom Rust.
Polls are open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. For more Election Day details, visit the Virginia Board of Elections website.
Here is a quick guide to the candidates.
Fairfax County Sheriff
Ken Plum (D) – incumbent running unopposed