SOURCE: Detroit Regional Chamber

December 18, 2007 12:40 ET

More Time Given for Michigan to Develop Enhanced Driver's Licenses

DETROIT, MI--(Marketwire - December 18, 2007) - For the past two years, the Detroit Regional Chamber has led a national business coalition to mitigate the negative effects the new Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) regulations will have on business and tourism in the United States. The economic impact is estimated at $100 million in lost revenue each year for the Detroit Region.

"The recent budget bill passed by Congress, and expected to be signed by the president, is a major win for our economic development efforts," said Richard E. Blouse Jr., president and CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber. "A provision in the bill helps secure the borders without harming the economy by extending the deadline for complying with the strict travel regulations."

The new WHTI rules require previously exempt citizens from the United States, Canada and Mexico to present a passport or combination of secure documents when entering the United States. The requirement of a passport would mean fewer border crossings and tourism dollars for the local and national economies. The federal budget bill sets June 1, 2009 as the earliest deadline for meeting the new international travel rules.

"The extended compliance deadline gives states time to develop workable solutions, such as an enhanced driver's license, that keep our borders open and safe," continued Blouse.

The Detroit Regional Chamber and Michigan Secretary of State are pushing a new program that strengthens the procedure for issuing driver's licenses. The program would allow American citizens to prove citizenship with their enhanced driver's licenses in place of a passport when crossing the border.

About the Detroit Regional Chamber

With over 23,000 members, the Detroit Regional Chamber is the largest chamber of commerce in the country. The Chamber's mission is carried out through business attraction efforts, public policy advocacy, strategic partnerships and quality products and services for members.

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