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State seeks second REAL ID delay

Missourians with travel plans in 2019 won’t have to worry about not having a REAL ID compliant drivers license after this week’s announcement that the Department of Homeland Security has granted the state a second extension to implement the safety feature.

Without the waiver, Missourians would have been unable to board airplanes without a passport or some other federally-approved ID as of Oct. 10. The extension means state residents will be able to use their current forms of identification to fly domestically and enter federal facilities until January.

In a news release announcing the grace period extension, Missouri Department of Revenue Director Joel Walters is expecting the state to be fully compliant with the REAL ID Act by March 2019.

“Missouri’s current extension is valid through Oct. 10, 2018, and we’ve already applied for another extension,” Walters said. “That extension is expected to be approved and would allow Missouri driver licenses and identification cards to continue to be accepted until Missouri reaches full compliance with the REAL ID Act, which we expect to be by March of 2019.”

Congress passed the Real ID Act in 2005, after the 9/11 Commission recommended that the federal government set standards for identification. The Real ID Act does not apply to voting or registering to vote, applying for federal benefits or being licensed by a state to drive.

Under the act, electronic copies of proof-of-identity requirements, such as birth certificates or Social Security cards are kept by the government for a certain amount of time and then deleted from the database. Opponents of the act believed this was an invasion of privacy.

During the 2017 legislative session, the Missouri General Assembly approved legislation to allow residents to obtain a photo ID that is compliant with the federal REAL ID Act. Because the current version of the Missouri driver’s license is not compliant, DHS announced in January 2016 that Missourians would not be able to enter federal facilities and would not be able to fly domestically beginning in 2018.

Then-Gov. Eric Greitens signed a bill in June 2017 allowing those with concerns regarding Real ID to obtain a license non-compliant with federal regulations, while offering others the federally mandated IDs.

According to a statement released by the Missouri Legislature last year, the state said it would “continue to work toward the implementation of the new REAL ID-compliant licenses and is on track to have them in place by March 2019. The Missouri Department of Revenue has been making an effort to reach certification with the Department of Homeland Security.

“Several internal and external processes need to be changed or upgraded to obtain certification, and that process is expected to take at least 18 months. The state will have to apply for a second waiver next year in order to cover the gap between October when the current waiver expires, and also in March, when the new IDs will be in circulation.”

According to state Rep. Mike Henderson, R-Bonne Terre, Missouri residents should treat renewals and new license requests the same as they have in the past.

“Once Missouri has received certification from the Department of Homeland Security that compliant identification can be issued, the Department of Revenue will take steps to notify the public that it is time to request a compliant driver license or non-driver identification card if they choose to do so,” Henderson said. “With the state receiving this second extension, we are on track to be compliant with the federal government and Missourians shouldn’t have any problems traveling next year or in the future.”

While noting that some people don’t like the idea of a REAL ID, Henderson believes having extra security while flying on an aircraft is worth the hassle.

“I think it’s great that the state and federal government worked together the way it should be to not inconvenience the people and make it tough on them,” he said. “In the same breath, I think REAL ID is important. I think 9/11 shows us why we have REAL ID.

“People might say, ‘Why do we need REAL ID?’ but the idea is that after 9/11 we should have learned some lessons that they’re doing this to protect us. It changed the way we live whether we like it or not. I think we do need to take these precautions. I want to take them for me, I want to take them for my kids, I want to take them for my grandkids.”

According to DHS, every passenger will need to present a Real-ID compliant license or another form of identification to travel domestically starting in October 2020. As of this month, 28 states are compliant with the act.

The Fresh Start Act of 2019 is aiming to help Missouri individuals, who may have a criminal record, get their lives back on track. The bill passed the House last week and has been sent to the Senate.  

The Fresh Start Act of 2019 is aiming to help Missouri individuals, who may have a criminal record, get their lives back on track. The bill passed the House last week and has been sent to the Senate.  

Kevin Jenkins is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-518-3614 or kjenkins@dailyjournalonline.com

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