A travel crisis may be looming for Missourians. If the Missouri General Assembly does not enact REAL ID legislation this session ending May 12, Missouri residents will not be allowed to use their current Missouri driver's licenses and state ID's as valid travel identification to access commercial airlines, federal facilities or military bases beginning Jan. 22, 2018.

A travel crisis may be looming for Missourians. If the Missouri General Assembly does not enact REAL ID legislation this session ending May 12, Missouri residents will not be allowed to use their current Missouri driver’s licenses and state ID’s as valid travel identification to access commercial airlines, federal facilities or military bases beginning Jan. 22, 2018.

U.S. Congress passed the REAL ID Act in 2005 as a result of the 9-11 Commission Report recommendations for improvements in state-issued identification to prevent terrorists from using unchecked or false documents to avoid detection. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) phased in Act requirements and according to the DHS website, Missouri is one of only four states that remain “not compliant.”

While state compliance to the Act is voluntary, travel restrictions on identification allowed will be mandatory. As of Jan. 22, 2018, identification will not be accepted from states who have not passed REAL ID legislation and who are not working to comply with new identification requirements. If a state has passed legislation, its residents may continue to use currently issued identification until Oct. 1, 2020. After this date, all travelers must have REAL ID Act enhanced state identification.

Missouri legislators have a long history of proactively ignoring REAL ID compliance citing fears of federal overreach and personal privacy. Missouri Revised Statutes Section 302.189 was enacted in 2013 prohibiting the Department of Revenue from collecting required source document information.

To obtain a driver’s license in Missouri, a U.S. citizen must provide a certified birth certificate, U.S. Passport, U.S. Certificate of Citizenship, Naturalization or Birth Abroad, or a U.S. Military ID card or discharge papers and a copy of a U.S. birth certificate. Non-U.S. citizens must present appropriate immigration documents indicating status. No copies of these documents are presently kept on file.

The REAL ID Act requires individuals to present required documents and the state must retain a copy either electronically for a minimum of 10 years or paper for at least seven. Department of Revenue staff will be required to confirm through the social security administration the full social security number provided. Opponents to the Act argue document retention increases identity theft risks. Identification documents including birth certificates (state issued) and U.S. Passports (federally issued) are currently stored in state and federal databases.

Today there are two different REAL ID bills before the General Assembly. Both allow Missourians the option to select an approved REAL ID or obtain an unapproved document.

House Bill 151 sponsored by Representative Kevin Corlew was prefiled December 2016. The bill passed March 30 and was sent to the Senate. To become law this bill must pass through the Senate without amendments, receive a majority vote and be signed by the governor.

An emergency clause was not approved leaving the effective date of Aug. 28. If HB 151 is amended in the Senate, it goes back to the House for an “accept or reject” vote. Representative Corlew stated, “I am confident that we have the support to pass the legislation and the governor’s support (to sign the bill). I will focus on pushing it forward so the opposition will not be successful in stalling the legislation.”

Local state representatives Rocky Miller, David Wood and Diane Franklin voted for the House bill. Representative Miller explained, “It makes sense to give our citizens the option to get a REAL ID.”

Also prefiled in December 2016 was Senate Bill 37 sponsored by Senator Ryan Silvey. As of April 10 this bill is on the informal calendar for perfection and includes an emergency clause with an effective date the day the governor signs it. SB 37 must pass the Senate and go through the House for debate, readings and voting without amendments. If amended in the House, the bill goes back through Senate procedures and voting again before reaching the Governor’s desk.

Senator Silvey said, “Senate Bill 37 should be on the Senate floor in the next few weeks and we are confident that the general assembly will act this session and pass a fix for REAL ID. Senate Bill 37, known as the REAL ID Fix, gives Missourians a choice. For too long, politicians have controlled if Missourians are even capable of complying with the federal REAL ID standards. This bill simply allows our citizens to decide for themselves whether REAL ID is right for them and their families.”

Previously Missouri was granted a DHS extension for compliance which expires Oct. 10, 2017. The extension does not cover military bases where access is now denied using Missouri ID.

With increased national focus on reducing terrorism opportunities and no evidence that Missouri is attempting to comply with the Act, Senator Silvey acknowledged, “If the REAL ID Fix fails to pass the General Assembly and is not signed by the Governor, it is highly unlikely that the Department of Homeland Security would grant Missouri an additional extension.”

Time is running out for a legislative solution with less than 20 scheduled session days remaining. Most Missourians are unaware of this impending deadline. Without a compliant law, Missouri residents who want to access commercial airlines, federal facilities or military bases must obtain a U.S. Passport or other REAL ID acceptable forms of travel identification before Jan. 22, 2018.