Missouri is one step closer to complying with the federal Real ID law.
The Missouri House on Thursday night approved legislation allowing those who wish to get a Real ID-compliant driver’s license to do so. Those with concerns about the Real ID law would be permitted to get a license that doesn’t comply with the federal regulations.
It now goes to Gov. Eric Greitens. If he signs it, Missouri will avoid the promised consequences of being out of compliance — notably a promise by federal officials that next January, Missourians would no longer be able to use a driver’s license to board a commercial airplane or enter certain federal buildings or military bases.
“This is a reasonable solution that gives Missourians a choice,” said Rep. Kevin Corlew, a Kansas City Republican sponsoring the bill in the House.
Missouri is one of five states that currently aren’t compliant.
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.
Those same privacy concerns continue to stoke opposition today.
But concessions in the Missouri Senate aimed at soothing those concerns cleared a path for the bill. The governor has hinted he plans to sign it.
“This is a common-sense policy that residents of Kansas City needed,” said Kansas City Mayor Sly James.
Justin Meyer, deputy director of aviation at Kansas City Aviation Department, said if Missouri didn’t get into compliance, it could have resulted in a decrease demand for travel from Kansas City, and thus, fewer flights at Kansas City International Airport.
“With an option to obtain Real ID-compliant licenses,” he said, “we anticipate that passenger growth at KCI will continue and our Missouri-based travelers will be able to enjoy the convenience of using state-issued driver’s licenses as a valid proof of identification when boarding a domestic flight.”
Not everyone was pleased with the final product, however.
Rep. Jon Carpenter, a Kansas City Democrat, decried the provisions included in the bill to appease its opponents, such as a mandate that documents used to obtain an ID be stored on a server that isn’t connected to the internet.
“This bill is jam-packed with unnecessary and frankly dumb concessions to far-right conspiracy theorists,” Carpenter said, “but if this is my only option, and the best the Republican supermajority can do to fix the ID problem, I have to vote yes.”
Congress approved the Real ID Act in 2005, following a recommendation from the commission formed to study the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
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. Each state must agree to share its database of licensed drivers with other states.
The Missouri Department of Revenue has said it will take two years to get the new system up and running. The state has been told the federal government will grant Missouri a waiver permitting those with current state-issued licenses to board planes and enter federal buildings during that time.
The Star’s Allison Pecorin and Lynn Horsley contributed to this story.