COLUMBUS—Today, State Senator Cecil Thomas (D-Cincinnati) introduced a resolution that would encourage local governments to institute municipal identification card programs. Municipalities across the country, from New York City to San Francisco, have begun to issue these identification cards to their residents. The cards are particularly valuable to community members who may face barriers to obtaining a driver’s license or other state-issued ID, such as the homeless, foster youth, undocumented immigrants, and the elderly.
“It is important that we take action to make our communities more inclusive. This is an opportunity for our cities to be laboratories of democracy,” said Senator Thomas. “This resolution is meant to show respect for the identity of all Ohioans, regardless of their status as a refugee, undocumented immigrant, or homeless person.”
Cities like New Haven, Connecticut, have come up with innovative administrative measures for their municipal ID programs that meet the needs of residents and protect against fraud. Documentation of identity and residency is required in these places, and recipients benefit from easier access to basic services and civic institutions.
Reports from cities with municipal ID programs indicate the cards can also serve an important public safety function. Residents carrying a card can easily establish their identity when interacting with law enforcement, especially if there is a language barrier.
“As a former police officer, I can say that an inability to establish a person’s identity can escalate a situation very quickly,” said Senator Thomas. “Protecting our law enforcement officers should be a top priority, and these programs carry important benefit in that regard.”