Pennsylvania Moves To Comply With Federal Real ID Law

Even before the House voted 190-1 Wednesday afternoon, Wolf said he would sign the measure if it reached his desk.

The vote had those in the aviation industry breathing a sigh of relief. That stance began to create problems for residents previous year when they were informed by U.S. Homeland Security their driver's license would not be secure enough to gain access to military bases, federal buildings or nuclear plants.

The bill that passed both chambers creates a two-tiered system that allows Pennsylvanians to opt out of Real ID. If the state failed to put a program in place by then, stat driver's licenses would not function as valid forms of ID at airports and federal facilities starting in January of 2018.

The REAL ID Act addresses federal government restrictions for entering federal facilities and boarding airplanes.

Many House conservatives, who had led the initial revolt against the federal requirements five years ago, said they would back this bill because it gives individuals the choice of whether they want the enhanced identification.

"I believe this is an unfunded mandate for us to comply with them, when I believe they should be complying with us", he said.

"It was imperative that we do this", he said.

In an interview after the vote, Marshall said he resented the unfunded mandate from the federal government, and said that if the federal government doesn't want to trust the state to create legitimate identification cards he believes the onus should be on Washington to make US passports more affordable and wallet-sized. Pennsylvania is one of eight states - the others are Alaska, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Virginia and Washington - given limited extensions to comply with the federal law.

With Tuesday's vote, state officials will ask Homeland Security for an extension to get REAL ID-compliant licenses available to Pennsylvania travelers.

PennDOT spokeswoman Alexis Campbell said the conversion will require significant changes within the Bureau of Driver Licensing, that could take at least 18 months to complete.

How do I get one?

Under the new bill, you'd still have to get your license updated to use it to fly domestically - which will probably involve a trip to the DMV.

"I believe a Pennsylvania driver's license should already be accepted by the federal government, for a multitude of reasons", Marshall said.

That includes a Social Security card, a birth certificate or passport, and two other identifying documents to prove residency, such as a utility bill or a W-2 tax form.

SOURCES: PennDOT and legislative research of the impact of the REAL ID bill.

  • Joanne Flowers