On Colorado Inside Out, Kopel distorted provisions of vetoed state ID bill

››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

Dave Kopel of the Rocky Mountain News and the Independence Institute mischaracterized state legislation that would have made it easier to obtain Colorado identification, saying it would have allowed applicants to use "driver's licenses from other states that have really poor identity verification issues." In fact, the bill expressly prohibited the stand-alone use of licenses from states that do not substantiate applicants' lawful presence in the United States.

On the June 8 broadcast of KBDI Channel 12's Colorado Inside Out, regular panelist Dave Kopel -- who is the Rocky Mountain News' media critic and research director at the conservative Independence Institute -- misleadingly asserted that state House Bill 1313, concerning the documentation that people must present to obtain state identification, "went too far in allowing people to start obtaining Colorado documents using essentially breeder documents, such as driver's licenses from other states that have really poor identity verification issues." In fact, the bill explicitly prohibited the stand-alone use of licenses from states that do not substantiate applicants' lawful presence in the United States, and it required those seeking Colorado-issued identification to produce a secondary form of identification if their existing license was not from a state meeting the higher "lawful presence" standard.

As the News reported on June 2, Gov. Bill Ritter (D) vetoed the measure. Ritter stated that "though its goals were laudable, House Bill 1313 would have supplanted the Department of Revenue's rule-making authority." The News noted that the bill sought to correct provisions in the Department of Motor Vehicle rules that prevent "legitimate Coloradans [from getting] driver's licenses or photo ID cards." As Colorado Media Matters has noted (here, here, and here), numerous commentators have misled on the bill's identification requirements.

In asserting that HB 1313 would have allowed applicants to present "driver's licenses from other states that have really poor identity verification issues," Kopel ignored the fact that, for those presenting only an out-of-state driver's license to obtain official Colorado identification, state Department of Motor Vehicle offices could only have accepted licenses from states that require proof of the applicant's lawful U.S. presence:

42-2-104.3. Licenses -- proof of identity, age, and lawful presence -- rules.

(2) an applicant may establish identity, age, and lawful presence in the united states by any of the following:

(a) providing to the department one of the following valid documents:

(ii) a driver's license ... issued by the United States or any state that requires proof of lawful presence in the United States to obtain such driver's license or an identification document that is not expired.

Furthermore, Kopel failed to note the explicit and more stringent standard that would have applied to applicants seeking to obtain Colorado identification by presenting licenses "issued by any state that does not require proof of lawful presence in the United States." Such applicants would have been required to also produce a driver's license from another state, not expired by more than 12 months, and issued by a state that "requires proof of lawful presence in the United States." Alternatively, such applicants could complement the out-of-state license with official tribal identification or identification issued by the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs, a U.S. birth certificate issued by the proper state or local authority, or a military identification card or dependent card not expired within the last 10 years.

From the June 8 broadcast of KBDI Channel 12's Colorado Inside Out:

GLORIA NEAL (host): David, was it political?

KOPEL: Maybe in, in part. But I, I think there was a -- you know, when you have The Denver Post, which is not exactly Tancredoite in its views on the immigration issue, even they saying editorially that this, this was a bad bill and it, it addressed a, a real problem. And I think almost everyone acknowledges that. But it went too far in allowing people to start obtaining Colorado documents using essentially breeder documents, such as driver's licenses from other states that have really poor identity verification issues. On the -- and so now I think it's another example of Ritter having a good sense of the, the, you know, sort of the sensible center --

NEAL: Mm-hmm.

KOPEL: -- of Colorado.

We've changed our commenting system to Disqus.
Instructions for signing up and claiming your comment history are located here.
Updated rules for commenting are here.