JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – State Representative Kevin Corlew hopes to give Missourians the ability to obtain photo identification that complies with the federal REAL ID Act. He recently pre-filed legislation, HB 151, which would require the state revenue department to issue Real ID-compliant driver’s licenses and identification cards to those who want them.
The REAL ID Act was passed by the U.S. Congress in 2005 to enhance security procedures by establishing new minimum standards for driver’s licenses. Current state law, which was passed in 2009 to protect the private information of Missouri citizens, prohibits the Missouri Department of Revenue from complying with the federal act. Because the state has not complied with the requirements, Missouri licenses are no longer a valid form of identification at federal facilities and military bases and will no longer be valid at airports as proof of identity for domestic flights beginning in 2018.
Corlew filed similar legislation last year in the Missouri House of Representatives. The legislation made it through the committee process but was not brought to the House floor for a vote because it was too close to the end of the legislative session.
“I met with a lot of constituents this past year who were frustrated that their Missouri driver’s licenses did not meet the standards to be used for federal official purposes,” Corlew said. So he determined to work on the legislation again.
House Bill 151 is designed to provide a reasonable solution that will ensure that Missourians aren’t burdened with having to get alternative identifications to access federal facilities or to visit family members on military bases.
“Missouri’s non-compliance with the REAL ID Act is becoming an issue for several industries in Missouri, including the construction industry,” said Leonard Toenjes, president of the Associated General Contractors of Missouri. This is because Missouri businesses supply goods and services to many federal facilities in or near Missouri, such as Scott Air Force Base near St. Louis, Fort Leonard Wood in mid-Missouri, and Fort Leavenworth and Whiteman Air Force Base near the Kansas City area. Missouri workers are now required to show alternative forms of identification to access such federal properties. “Missouri’s non-compliant driver’s licenses and identifications impact the workforce available to complete construction projects in federal facilities or on a military base,” said Toenjes.
Beginning in 2018, Missouri’s current driver’s licenses will no longer be accepted at airport security checkpoints for passengers flying on domestic flights. Air passengers thus will be required to show alternative identifications, such as a U.S. passport. But passports can take up to 6 weeks to get, Corlew said, and the costs may be prohibitive for some families. “I want to make sure that a Missouri family doesn’t have to apply and pay for passports simply to visit their grandparents or go on vacation in another state.”
Local airport officials are also concerned. “Kansas City International Airport is on track to serve nearly 11 million arriving and departing passengers in 2016, of which more than three million are Missouri residents,” said Justin Meyer, Deputy Director of Aviation for the Kansas City Aviation Department. “If Missouri driver’s licenses remain non-compliant with REAL ID, it is reasonable to expect a negative impact on both leisure and business travel as well as a corresponding negative impact on Missouri’s economy starting in 2018.”
Recognizing that some Missourians would rather not comply with the REAL ID requirements, based on privacy concerns, HB 151 allows citizens to request the existing style of Missouri identifications, subject to its federal limitations. For those who want or need the federally compliant driver’s license, the bill establishes safeguards so that any additional data gathered is used only for purposes of issuing the identification.
“We want to continue to protect the private information of Missouri citizens, but we also want a viable solution that will allow them to continue to travel freely and easily,” said Corlew. “My bill represents a simple but effective fix that will allow our revenue department to issue Real ID-compliant identification cards, but will also allow individuals who want to continue to use the current driver’s license to do that as well. This change will empower Missourians to make their own choice on the issue.”