Tag: paul opsommer

The REAL ID Fight Continues in the States

Federal programs almost never die. Bureaucrats and their big-government allies are still trying to cobble together an American national ID.

But leaders in the states continue to fight. In this case, it’s Michigan state representative and House transportation committee chairman Paul Opsommer (R-DeWitt). In response to a recent report citing state compliance with REAL ID “benchmarks,” he’s put out a scathing report that was written up in the River Country (MI) Journal.

“The things we have done in Michigan, like making sure illegal aliens cannot get driver’s licenses, we are doing independently of REAL ID, and we are not interested in allowing the federal government to have permanent control over our licenses,” said Opsommer. “You can bet your bottom dollar that at some point if Obamacare is not repealed that the federal government will adopt new rules in the future requiring the cards’ use for access to healthcare. You can bet they will require it to buy a firearm. You can bet they ultimately want to put RFID chips into all these and share our full data with Canada, Mexico, and beyond. If we don’t repeal Title II of the REAL ID Act, all we are doing is putting off the ‘I told you so’ moment for a few years down the road.”

The tensions that the Framers of the Constitution designed into our governmental structure are doing their work through Rep. Opsommer.

“State documents should be state documents, and federal documents should be federal documents,” he says.

“If the federal government is bent on having a national ID card, they need to get their own house in order and start to make federal passports more secure and more affordable. Quit trying to outsource your own mismanagement of the federal passport system onto the states and let us get onto the business of issuing our own safe and secure sovereign driver’s licenses.”

The bureaucrats will keep at it at least until the Congress defunds REAL ID. But they’ll keep bumping into the likes or Rep. Paul Opsommer.

Michigan State Policymakers Push to Keep Federal Gas Taxes

Last week I discussed the Obama administration’s decision to redistribute federal high-speed rail money rejected by Florida Gov. Rick Scott. I noted that “Florida taxpayers were spared their state’s share of maintaining the line, but they’re still going to be forced to help foot the bill for passenger-rail projects in other states.” My underlying point was that the states should be allowed to make their own transportation decisions with their own money.

Two Michigan state policymakers – both Republican – want to send the same message to Washington. State representatives Paul Opsommer and Tom McMillin have introduced resolutions that call on the federal government to allow the states to keep the federal gasoline taxes that they send to Washington. (Opsommer’s resolution would have to pass both state chambers, whereas McMillin’s resolution would only need to pass in the Michigan House.)

Michigan would no longer send its money to Washington so that it can be washed through Congress and the federal bureaucracy and sent back to Michigan (and the other states) with costly federal strings attached. Instead, highway financing and control would be left to the states. As a Cato essay on federal highway funding argues, re-empowering the states is clearly preferable to the current top-down approach:

With the devolution of highway financing and control to the states, successful innovations in one state would be copied in other states. And without federal subsidies, state governments would have stronger incentives to ensure that funds were spent efficiently. An additional advantage is that highway financing would be more transparent without the complex federal trust fund. Citizens could better understand how their transportation dollars were being spent.

The time is ripe for repeal of the current central planning approach to highway financing. Given more autonomy, state governments and the private sector would have the power and flexibility to meet the huge challenges ahead that America faces in highway infrastructure.

Some people, particularly those with an interest in the current convoluted arrangement, argue that it’s necessary for the enlightened beings in Washington to provide us with a national “vision” or “plan.” But the redirection of Florida’s high-speed rail allotment to other states shows that decision-making in Washington usually has more to do with politics than economics.

Conspicuously left out of the Obama administration’s re-spreading of high-speed cheese was Wisconsin, which tried to grab some of the Florida money for an intercity rail line that connects the state to Chicago. Reason’s Sam Staley points out that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker also said “no thanks” to the administration’s high-speed rail money. Staley says “the snubbing of the State of Wisconsin smells a lot like political payback,” and links to a piece from a Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel columnist who doesn’t have any doubts.

If either or both of the Michigan resolutions pass, Congress can simply choose to ignore the message. Hopefully, more states will take a cue from Michigan, which could make it harder for the folks in Washington to simply look the other way. Regardless, Opsommer and McMillan deserve a round of applause for trying to score one for fiscal federalism.

“Enhanced Driver’s License” Snake Oil

Here’s Michigan state representative Paul Opsommer (R) on the Department of Homeland Security’s “Enhanced Driver’s License,” which contains a radio frequency identification chip with a long read range:

Expect the Department of Homeland Security to tell you what a great thing they are doing by allowing you the ability to buy these RFID licenses. They create the problem, provide a solution that is the cheapest for them and most risky for you, and then expect you to like it. But RFID is not mandated by Congress, and if enough states stand up for themselves the policy will be changed. Michigan needs to say no and do just that.