REAL ID passes Senate, now returns to the House

  

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – After months of debate and work on the contentious issue of implementing REAL ID in the Show-Me State, the Missouri Senate finally reached an agreement on the bill.

Just minutes after midnight, lawmakers in the upper chamber approved the legislation put forward by Sen. Ryan Silvey by a vote of 28-5.

The proposed legislation seeks to offer Missourians a choice to either get a REAL ID compliant license or a non-compliant one, meaning those with concerns about their personal documents being stored on a server could rest without worry.

“We are providing our citizens a choice,” Silvey said. “It doesn’t force anyone to do anything they don’t want to do.”

Many had wondered whether REAL ID would make it through the Senate, due to the heavy debate over the issue, led by Sen. Will Kraus, and after taking up the bill early Tuesday morning, it seemed that reaching a compromise was still an issue.

But Sen. Silvey said that Kraus and himself, along with others, worked throughout the afternoon to put together something that everybody could live with.

The main reason as to why it has been such a major priority for many is that as of January 2018, Missouri identification cards would no longer be accepted as a form of ID for those seeking to board domestic flights, visit military bases or enter federal buildings, unless the Missouri General Assembly embraces the REAL ID standard. Missouri is one of just four states not in compliance with REAL ID. The others are Maine, Montana, and Minnesota.

And even though legislators worked to find common ground on the bill, some still opposed the legislation, including Kraus, who worked to place the finishing touches to put together a bill he thought was fairer and fiscally responsible.

The new substitute, which Silvey put forward late Tuesday night, comes with a number of new concessions. It now includes a mandate that the state can only store documents used to get a Real ID-compliant license on a server that isn’t connected to the internet, an air-gapped server of sorts.

The bill also includes a clause stating it will expire in five years unless lawmakers renew the law, and also includes penalties, as it also makes it a crime to illegally access the data.

Kraus still opposes REAL ID implementation in Missouri, saying it isn’t a real choice.

“It’s a false choice, and I’m not going to pretend to hide my disappointment in how things have played out,” he said in a statement. “Republicans are supposed to be about smaller government, but REAL ID creates a database that will only result in a larger, more intrusive government. It is one of the worst invasions of privacy the federal government has perpetrated on our citizens.”

“I see no reason why Missouri should stand down in its attempts to push for the federal government to repeal the REAL ID Act,” Kraus continued. “With that, I once again call on the people of Missouri, state lawmakers and the attorney general to continue advocating for the rights granted to us, both as citizens and as a state, by the U.S. Constitution.”

The bill now heads back to the Missouri House. They have until Friday at 6 p.m. to sign off on the Senate version and send it to Gov. Eric Greitens. If they do not agree to the Senate changes, they would need to go to conference on the item.

Benjamin Peters is a reporter for the Missouri Times and Missouri Times Magazine, and also produces the #MoLeg Podcast. He joined the Missouri Times in 2016 after working as a sports editor and TV news producer in mid-Missouri. Benjamin is a graduate of Missouri State University in Springfield. To contact Benjamin, email benjamin@themissouritimes.com or follow him on Twitter @BenjaminDPeters.