July 12–Missourians can enter federal buildings, military bases and nuclear power plants again with a Missouri driver’s license — at least until Oct. 10.
The Department of Homeland Security granted the state another extension to get its driver’s licenses in line with the security measures passed in the Real ID Act of 2005. In January of last year, DHS announced that the state’s extension had lapsed and said that state-issued licenses would be not be recognized as a valid form of identification in federal buildings.
It also declared that Missourians would not be able to use their licenses for identification at airports, even when they fly domestically, starting in January 2018. The deadline for airline travel is still in place, Justine Whelan, DHS spokesperson, said Tuesday.
“There are no anticipated changes to the enforcement schedule,” Whelan wrote in an email. She later added, “I can’t comment on the possibility of future extensions, however REAL ID enforcement will apply to residents from non-compliant states that do not have an active extension.”
When the federal act was first passed, Missouri had been reluctant to comply citing privacy concerns; in 2009, lawmakers passed legislation, which then-Gov. Jay Nixon signed, to forbid the Department of Revenue from working toward compliance.
However, when DHS announced in January of last year that Missourians could no longer enter federal facilities with their Missouri driver’s licenses, public outcry forced lawmakers to revisit the policy. During hearings for the legislation, trucking companies, airports, regular citizens and business interests all lobbied for Missouri to enforce the security standards.
Lawmakers heard from constituents that couldn’t visit family members on military bases unless they forked over money for a passport, which is more expensive than a driver’s license.
After much debate, the state passed a fix this last legislative session, in which Missourians can choose to have either a REAL-ID compliant license or a non-compliant license. In order to receive a compliant license, their source documents, such as their birth certificate, will be scanned and stored in a statewide database. There is no additional fee to get a compliant license.
Throughout the process, sponsors of the bill, state Sen. Ryan Silvey, R-Kansas City, and state Rep. Kevin Corlew, R-Kansas City, said they had been talking with DHS and that just passing legislation could trigger an extension.
Gov. Eric Greitens signed the bill June 12. Because an effort to add an emergency clause onto the bill failed, the Department of Revenue can only starting working toward compliance Aug. 28. A request for comment and more information from the Department of Revenue was not returned.
Greitens’ request for relief from the REAL ID enforcement was made June 21. According to the Associated Press, the governor’s office will continue to apply for extensions.
The news comes as a relief to area trucking companies.
Kevin McKelvy, the vice president of administration for R&R Trucking in Duenweg, said he’s anxious for the issue to be resolved. The company contracts with the Department of Defense and the Department of Energy. After the Sept. 11 attack, agencies err on the side of nonadmittance, he said.
“We know because of the tightened security, any question about the validity of your ID, any question about your background or history, and it will prohibit us from doing our job,” McKelvy said.
Several of R&R’s 500 drivers have passports or Transportation Worker Identity Credential cards, which are issued by the federal government. However, after compliant licenses are available, McKelvy said the drivers will be encouraged to obtain them.
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