As state lawmakers ponder whether or not Missouri should comply with the federal Real ID law, Gov. Eric Greitens says President Donald Trump may be considering changes that would make the debate unnecessary.
Missouri faces a January deadline to get into compliance with the federal law. If it does not, Missourians will no longer be able to use their driver’s license to board a commercial airplane or set foot in certain federal buildings or military bases.
Instead, they’d have to have a passport.
Greitens told reporters Tuesday that he has spoken with members of Trump’s administration about Real ID and that they “may be considering a change. If that change happens, then the IDs that we have today will actually be functional for people to fly.”
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The governor’s comments emboldened opponents of Real ID in Missouri, who have long argued that lawmakers shouldn’t move forward with any Real ID bill until the Trump administration has had a chance to take action.
“This gives me a lot of hope that something is being worked out at the federal level that will help Missouri avoid having to pass a Real ID bill,” said state Sen. Will Kraus, a Lee’s Summit Republican.
Congress passed the Real ID law in 2005 as part of the security response to the Sept. 11 attacks. It requires states to meet minimum requirements for driver’s licenses and other documents.
Among the requirements that Missouri is not currently meeting: Documents used to obtain a driver’s license, such as a birth certificate or Social Security card, must be scanned and stored in a database.
Privacy concerns inspired Missouri lawmakers to pass a law in 2009 prohibiting the state from complying with the Real ID Act. Four years later, when it was discovered the Missouri Department of Revenue was scanning and storing documents, lawmakers passed another bill specifically outlawing the practice.
In the Missouri Senate, Republican Ryan Silvey of Kansas City has sponsored legislation pitched as a compromise. Missourians who are wary of the Real ID law would be able to get a driver’s license that doesn’t align with all of the federal regulations. Those who have no qualms with the standards would receive a different license.
But opposition remains.
Kraus has urged his colleagues to oppose Silvey’s bill in the hope that the federal government will grant Missouri an extension or make changes to the Real ID law that would avoid any of the negative consequences of being out of compliance.
“We’ve been working multiple angles to get this law changed at the federal level,” Kraus said. “One of those angles was a letter signed by more than 100 senators and representatives urging the (Trump) administration to take action. The governor agreed to deliver our letter when he was in Washington, D.C.”
Despite urging a wait-and-see approach to Real ID legislation, Greitens emphasized that it is “very important to me that every person in the state of Missouri has the option of having an ID that will allow them to fly.”