BRIEF: State previews IDs; Aiken closes publication to take state job

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S.C. DMV reveals first look at new federally compliant identification cards

By Lindsay Street, Statehouse correspondent  |  New drivers’ licenses that are compliant with federal rules will be available early next year, according to the S.C. Department of Motor Vehicles, which released images of the new REAL ID cards this week. Use of the new licenses is voluntary.

According to a news release, SCDMV said residents may be able to buy the new REAL ID licenses online with a valid credit card in 2018 if all correct documentation is on file. [Italicized info has been added since first publication.]

The new identification cards will be compliant with the federal REAL ID Act of 2005.  They can be used as identification to pass security at airports nationwide, enter secure federal buildings and visit military installations. S.C. residents without REAL ID-compliant cards will have to use valid U.S. passports or other federally-accepted identification to pass security in those areas..

For drivers who don’t want a REAL ID license or identification card, they will receive a non-compliant license or ID that will say “Not for Federal Identification” across the top. Beginning Oct. 1, 2020, these cards and current S.C. licenses and IDs cannot be used as identification to pass security at airports nationwide, enter secure federal buildings or visit military installations.

Quorum closes as founder takes job with state regulatory agency

By Lindsay Street, Statehouse correspondent  |  A South Carolina independent, online publication has shuttered after its founder accepted a new position at the S.C. Office of Regulatory Staff.

In 2015, veteran S.C. journalist Ron Aiken founded Quorum. On Monday, Aiken announced the publication’s immediate, indefinite suspension of new content.

Aiken told Statehouse Report the agency charged with representing the public interest of South Carolina in utility regulation for the major utility industries tapped him to become its public information officer. Quorum had previously published pieces on the state’s and utilities’ roles in the shuttering of a multi-billion dollar nuclear reactor project.

“I liked the fact that they (ORS) are a consumer advocate,” Aiken said. “The public protection watchdog role appeals to me.”

In his conversation with Statehouse Report, Aiken said finding good freelance help was a struggle during his publication’s stint. In a similar vein, Aiken said he was unable to find a successor for his publication in recent weeks. He posted an advertisement on a national journalism website without success. He said he would keep the site available as long as possible in an effort to continue to find a successor.

With a spate of journalism layoffs around the nation, Aiken said he found a model that worked: asking readers to pay for good, investigative journalism. At the time of his closing the publication, Quorum had 325 subscribers.

“The good news is that there is an appetite for it. Show you can do it well and in a trustworthy way, people recognize it and they want to support it,” Aiken said.

Aiken closed his announcement with a call to support local journalism.

“What we’re losing — institutional knowledge, deep local connections, decades of experience — is irreplaceable. Journalism is the public’s insurance policy against corruption, and at present it is a weakened, shaken and dizzied creature.

“I hope sites such as this can help spark a recovery, because the role of investigative journalism — holding government and elected officials accountable and exposing corruption and fraud — is critically important not just to the safeguarding of our rights but to the rule of law and the future of a free press.”

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