Dean Proposes Anti-Terrorism Bill, Photo ID Cards

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(Host) The Dean administration is putting the final touches on an anti-terrorism bill. The proposal includes a plan to require photo driver’s licenses as a new Vermont identification card.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports.

(Kinzel) In his State of the State address several weeks ago, Governor Howard Dean told lawmakers that he would propose legislation that would give the State of Vermont some additional tools to fight terrorism. Now that package is almost ready to be introduced.

The proposal will essentially do four things:

1. Provide enhanced penalties for crimes like arson that are linked to terrorism.
2. Allow the state to seize the assets of terrorists.
3. Make it crime to conduct terrorism activities using a computer.
4. Call for a mandatory photo driver’s license that will then be considered as a state identification card.

(Kinzel) Dean says the package is designed to give the state more ways to fight terrorism:

(Dean) “It’s good to have a state law that at least allows cooperation with the federal government, in terms of investigations of those attacks. There is nothing in this bill that creates the sweeping police powers that we see at the federal level and we certainly aren’t going criminalize protests and free speech and things like that. But it does make sense for us to be able to fight back in a way that we cannot now do.”

(Kinzel) Vermont is currently the only state in the country that does not require a photo driver’s license. That would change under this bill. Dean sees the photo license serving as a state identification card:

(Dean) “It will become one in fact. Terrorists in other states have unfortunately used those and that’s why we want to also make sure that we have sufficient standards to get one¿. There’s no particular reason we should be the last state in the country that doesn’t have photographs on driver’s licenses and it really is a security issue at this point.”

(Kinzel) The legislation is expected to be introduced in the Senate next week.

For Vermont Public Radio I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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