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Belter attends Washington D.C. Task Force Conference

State Representative Wesley Belter of Leonard attended the National Council of State Legislators Task Force Conference on Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness April 23 and 24 in Washington D.C. Belter has been a member of the Task Force since 2002, which was set up following the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon on September 11, 2001. There are currently nineteen legislators from nineteen states who serve on the committee that is chaired by Senator Richard Moore of Massachusetts.

Topics covered during the Conference were information technology and communication security, protection of water supplies, economic recovery following an attack, and Real ID program of identification. The Real ID program is currently the issue of most interest to the states. The program was passed by Congress with the goal to develop a universal driver's license that could be used as identification in all states as well as for transportation security.

The problem with the program is that it is estimated to cost the State of North Dakota fourteen million dollars and Congress has provided very little money to implement the program. There has also been a lot of concern expressed by the states that the ID program violates the issue of the right of privacy. The ID program was also to help with the identification of illegal immigration.

Currently there seems to be little progress made by Congress over the immigration issue, and until this issue is addressed the states are probably going to be slow at spending money on the Real ID program. At the present time, all fifty states have received an extension until December 31, 2009, to come into compliance with the law. If a state can show they are making progress towards implementing the law by the 2009 deadline the state will have until May 11, 2011, to get into full compliance. According to Belter, there will be real resistance from the states unless Congress deals with the funding issue as well as the illegal immigration problem.

While in Washington, Belter had the opportunity to visit his niece Rachel Belter who works for the White House as the Associate Director of the Homeland Security Council. She is the daughter of John and Nancy Belter of Burnsville, Minn. and the granddaughter of Rachel Belter of West Fargo.