JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – REAL ID, the measure that would allow Missourians to get identification suitable to enter federal buildings and military installations, as well as fly domestically, advanced to the House floor Tuesday afternoon after it passed the House Select Committee on General Laws 7-2.
Missouri’s current state-issued identification, including driver’s licenses, does not match federal REAL ID standards, created in 2005 as part of the security reaction to 9/11. Last year, the Department of Homeland Security said it would not grant an extension to Missouri, or most other non-compliant states.
Rep. Kevin Corlew, R-Kansas City, who sponsors the legislation, said it has advanced this year because of Missourians’ concerns that they could be kept from travelling or entering federal buildings after the DHS announcement.
“We’ve heard from our constituents more as it becomes more real to them,” Corlew said. “This legislation gives them the ability to go on the REAL ID system if they want to.”
Choice and privacy have been two of the main concerns for opponents of the bill. Corlew said the legislation has been designed and improved through the hearing process to address those concerns.
Missourians who go the DMV to get a new license would receive information about both the REAL ID compliant and non-compliant options and be able to choose which form of identification they want. No one would be forced to take a REAL ID if they didn’t want it.
But Rep. Jack Bondon, R-Belton, voted against the legislation in the Emerging Issues Committee and feels that for Missouri’s military families, there is no choice.
“It was appalling to me to see the federal government use our state’s military families as pawns to force the Missouri legislature to act and comply with REAL ID,” Bondon told the Missouri Times. “Once the federal government is able to control our borders and visas, then they can come to Missouri and tell us how to run our driver’s license system.”
Privacy is another big concern for opponents, especially because of the information the system gives the federal government. Activist Paul Hamby sent a letter to his supporter urging them to oppose the legislation because of the privacy concerns.
“REAL ID, sometimes called Dangerous ID includes a high tech data tracking chip that allows federal agents to track your travel,” he wrote. “It is proposed for the usual reasons that you must give up your liberty to gain security – but REAL ID dangerously takes away liberty and does not make you one bit safer. In fact, with another federal database that will likely be hacked or used wrongly by bad players in government, your safety and security will diminish.”
Corlew says the bill has been changed to help ease the privacy concerns. After an amendment, the legislation provides that the government can only use that information in accordance with REAL ID and only keep it as long as a person is in the REAL ID system.
While Corlew didn’t want to speak on the bill’s chances in the Senate, he felt good about it’s prospects of advancing in the House.
“I think there’s broad support for giving the people of Missouri choice,” he said.