I continue to be humbled by the opportunity to serve as your representative in the State House of Representatives. I recognize that the seat I fill does not belong to me, but to the people I serve.
I continue to make myself available to constituents in every way possible, and I do my best to respond to their concerns in a timely and efficient manner.
Over the past few weekends it has been my honor to be invited into several homes in the district to hold "Front Porch Politics" sessions. I continue to be amazed at how dedicated our citizens are in the 9th State House District to their communities, their state and their country.
I am more convinced than ever that I live in the best district, and that I represent the best group of people our state has to offer.
As I talk with friends and neighbors across the district, I often get questions or complaints about why a state agency does something a certain way. One of the questions I have received from several people relates to why you can no longer renew your driver's license online. This has resulted in long lines and longer wait times at our drivers' facilities.
As a result of these questions, I contacted the Commissioner's Office of the Georgia Department of Driver Services and requested a meeting.
I was pleased that they offered to travel to the Cumming location to meet with me to discuss my concerns. The meeting was informative, and I wanted to share with you a little of what I learned.
We all know that after the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, our nation had a lot of questions about how terrorists could have lived within our borders and acquired state issued IDs without being detected.
As a result of these attacks several new laws were enacted. One of these was the Federal Real ID Act of 2005. Under the act, states were required to meet 18 security benchmarks with regard to state-issued driver's licenses and identification cards by Jan. 15, 2013, in order to be used for official purposes, such as boarding an airplane or entering a federal building.
As a result, Georgia had to develop a procedure to comply with this federal law.
On Dec. 21, 2012, Gov. Nathan Deal announced that Georgia and 13 other states had been deemed in compliance by the Department of Homeland Security.
Since the beginning of 2013, more than 17,000 customers have visited the Georgia Department of Driver Services' facilities across the state. More than 1.5 million of Georgia's 7.6 million drivers have been issued a secure ID under this new process.
This past session we approved an additional 22 positions to help address this tremendous increase in volume. The department also is implementing additional online services in certain areas that will not violate the Real ID Act. This includes expanding customers' ability to complete online reinstatement of a suspended driver's license through a major reprogramming initiative.
Another issue that has added to the increase number of customers being served is the necessity for approximately 20 percent of them to return with additional items.
The Real ID requires that you provide specific documentation prior to obtaining a license or ID, including two documents that provide proof of their residential address, social security number documentation and identity.
The failure to have all these documents is resulting in the high percentage of customers being forced to return a second time.
In June the state announced that more Internet services are available that allows customers to provide additional residency information and/or social security information through a secure website eliminating the need for a return trip.
The increase in staff, the additional online services and other improvements that are being made should start to decrease the wait times at these facilities.
Once you have obtained the new secure ID, you can then renew it online. You will, however, have to return to the department every 16 years to have a new photograph taken as specified in the Federal Real ID Act.
I would encourage anyone that needs to visit Driver Services to first visit its website at www.dds.ga.gov to ensure that you are prepared with the correct documentation to avoid the need for a second trip.
The website allows you to create a "Personal Document Checklist" of what to bring with you and it also allows you to check and compare center wait times from a two week historical average.
After my meeting, I felt confident that Commissioner Robert Mikell and his staff are working hard to address our concerns.
If you have any specific problems with this department that you are unable to resolve, please feel free to contact me. I will do everything I can to help you navigate this system to ensure a positive outcome.
I am honored to serve as your Representative at the State Capitol, and I look forward to working with each of you to make our State a better place to live, to work and to raise our children.
Rep. Kevin Tanner can be reached on his cell phone at (678) 776-5059, at the Capitol at (404) 656-0152 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.