The state Senate must move quickly in the final days of the legislative session to ensure that Missourians can board commercial planes next year.
The state is currently not in compliance with federal security standards, and has been given a January 22, 2018 deadline to change its practices. The REAL ID Act, which was passed in 2005, requires stricter identification standards for homeland security and immigration purposes.
Under the law, states must scan and retain personal data, such as a social security number or birth certificate, which are needed to obtain the ID.
Some lawmakers are resistant to the requirement over privacy issues, and bills to bring the state into conformity have not made it to the finish line.
Representative Kevin Corlew (R-Kansas City) has one of a slew of bills to open the door for the state to issue driver’s licenses that meet the federal REAl ID requirements. His measure stands the best chance of passing because it’s the only one to have moved through one of the chambers.
Corlew notes his legislation gives citizens the choice of the existing non-compliant license or one that lets them board a plane.
“It gives Missourians the option to choose whether they want a Real ID compliant driver’s license or not, and it puts the procedures in place to be able to offer them that option.”
Corlew also points out that information retained by the state does not get dumped into a federal data base. And the information itself can only be obtained by meeting requirements in the Driver’s License Privacy Protection Act, which limits public disclosure of personal information.
Since January 2016, any civilian trying to gain access to a military base in Missouri has had to acquire an ID that meets the federal standards, such as a passport.
U.S. Passports contain Radio Frequency Identification (FRID) chips. Corlew says federal compliance doesn’t require the chip for driver’s licenses, which means Real ID’s issued by the state would be more respectful of some privacy concerns than passports.
One reason that Real ID legislation hasn’t been passed into law is a hope of some lawmakers that the federal government, under a new Republican administration, would scrap the requirement for storing information. They were advised by Governor Greitens in early March to wait and see if the White House under President Trump would make changes to existing law.
At the time, Greitens said “When I was in Washington D.C., I talked with some folks in the Trump-Pence administration about this. We need to look at whether or not the Trump-Pence administration is going to actually keep the Obama era rules in place.” (The law was actually put in place under the administration of George W. Bush)
Two bills in the legislature which have failed to advance, one from Senator Will Kraus (R-Lee’s Summit) and one from Representative Robert Ross (R-Summersville), urge Congress to repeal the Real ID Act.
Kraus has been adamant in his opposition to the federal standards, noting lawmakers passed legislation in 2015 prohibiting the state from storing personal information.
Corlew says passage of his measure would not impact any loosening of the REAL ID Act from the federal level.
“For us to go forward would not prevent Washington from doing something if they should. But we want to position ourselves to make sure that when needed, our Missouri families will be able to have the proper identification.”
Governor Greitens recently stated he would consider calling a special session of the legislature if lawmakers don’t pass a REAL ID compliant law.