Denied: Oklahoma’s request for Real ID Act extension denied
OKLAHOMA CITY – If you live in Oklahoma, you may want to apply for a passport if you plan to travel within the next couple of years.
It’s all part of the Real ID Act, which is a coordinated effort by the states and the federal government to improve the reliability of state issued ID’s.
It’s meant to inhibit terrorists’ ability to get fake ID’s.
However, Oklahoma passed a law in 2007 that said our state wouldn’t comply with the Real ID Act.
Critics said they are concerned about how our information will be stored, but now officials have a new concern.
After several attempts to get the law reversed failed this past legislative session, Oklahomans are now facing a deadline.
On Tuesday, the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety was notified that the State of Oklahoma’s request for an extension to become compliant with the Real ID Act was denied.
Oklahoma is currently operating under a grace period, which ends Jan. 29, 2017.
Beginning on Jan. 30, 2017, federal agencies are prohibited from accepting driver’s licenses and identification cards that were issued by non-compliant states for “official purposes.”
In other words, if you do not have a form of identification that complies with the Real ID Act, you will not be allowed to enter a federal building, facility, military base or courthouse.
Beginning on Jan. 22, 2018, a driver’s license or state ID from a state that is not compliant with the Real ID Act will not be accepted to board a commercial aircraft within the United States.
A handful of state leaders say they were concerned this could happen if the Legislature failed to act in 2016.
“Even if we pass a bill in the 2017 legislative session to address this, we will not have Real ID compliant licenses in the hands of Oklahomans by the time that deadline hits in 2018,” Sen. David Holt said.
A passport or military ID are both considered Real ID compliant and would work to get you on an airplane.
On Tuesday evening, Oklahoma Rep. Leslie Osborn and Rep. Jon Echols announced that they plan to introduce a bill that would bring the state into compliance with the Real ID Act.
Last legislative session, the Oklahoma House and the Oklahoma Senate both passed bills that would have brought Oklahoma into compliance before the deadline.
However, neither side could agree on the exact wording of the bill, so both ultimately failed.
“Unfortunately, the federal government is not giving us much of a choice, despite valid concerns that this law is poorly drafted and will have unintended consequences for individual privacy. As a state legislator, it is very important for me to make every effort within the law to protect my constituents, and I believe we can run legislation early next year that will allow us to comply and safeguard our citizens,” Echols said.
Even though the Real ID Act was passed in 2005, it hasn’t been fully enforced until now.
Over the past couple of years, Oklahoma was given several extensions to begin the process of becoming compliant with the law.
When nothing materialized at the end of the 2016 legislative session, state leaders were not optimistic about receiving another extension.
“I don’t think there will be a lot of flexibility on some of these deadlines that are looming now,” Department of Public Safety Commissioner Michael Thompson told NewsChannel 4 in June.
Now, legislators say they are ready to get to work.
“We are working closely with the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety and the federal Department of Homeland Security to draft language that will comply with the federal law while also protecting Oklahomans,” said Rep. Osborn, R-Mustang. “We are confident that early next session we will be able to pass legislation that brings our state into compliance.”
However, some are concerned that it may be too little, too late.
In June, DPS Commissioner Michael Thompson said it would likely take Oklahoma at least two years after a bill is passed for the state to actually become compliant.