“We shouldn’t have to be at this point, but we are,” Lawmakers search for Real ID solution

OKLAHOMA CITY - Faced with federal regulations, that would block Oklahomans from accessing airplanes, federal buildings and military bases with their driver's licenses, state lawmakers are working to find solutions to bring the state into compliance.

The federal government denied Oklahoma's request for another extension for the Real ID Act, which enhances security on identification cards.

The state has received several reprieves since the Act took effect in 2005.

In 2007, the state told its agencies to essentially ignore the Real ID Act and issue non-compliant cards.

Beginning 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.

"To be honest, we shouldn't have to be at this point, but we are," said State Rep. Leslie Osborn (R-Mustang). "Now that we are here, instead of wringing our hands, we're saying we have a solution, we're going to fix it and we're going to make Oklahoma compliant in time that it will not affect our citizens."

Osborn will try, once again, to pass a bill that will enable the state to become compliant while offering Oklahomans a choice.

Her legislation would bring the state into line with federal regulations but would allow others to keep the ID they have.

Similar attempts failed the last two years because the House and Senate couldn't reconcile different versions of legislation.

"It's really for our safety," Osborn said. "It's really to stop things like terrorism. It's really to watch for things like no-fly lists. It's a good thing. It's also helped us with identity protection because it's just a lot more secure and it has a lot more information on it than a basic license."

Only about half of states have complied with the Real ID Act.

Oklahomans have expressed concerns about privacy, security and what changes would mean for local tag agencies.

"If this is supposed to be the gold standard of identification and everything, I'm not so sure we've really found that to be the case," said Rep. Lewis Moore (R-Edmond), adding he has seen websites that sell fake, Real ID compliant licenses. "Has [compliance] been critical for [11] years and nothing's happened? Twenty-six, 27 states or so are in the same position as Oklahoma. We're not alone, we're not the outlier. We were the majority of the states that said we don't want a national ID."

Moore said he would be open to a solution similar to what Osborn is proposing.

But, unlike his colleagues, he doesn't see the rush to come into compliance.

"The sky is not falling," he said. "The earth is still rotating around the sun."

Public Safety Commissioner Michael Thompson said there is added urgency this year because it will take around two years to bring the state up to speed once a law passes.

Thompson and Osborn said the governor and legislators all seem to be on the same page.

They predict speedy passage of a bill once the legislature convenes in February, which the state expects will qualify it for another federal extension.

If a bill does not pass, the following forms of identification are acceptable for access to airplanes:

  • U.S. passport
  • U.S. passport card
  • DHS trusted traveler cards (Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, FAST)
  • U.S. military ID (active duty or retired military and their dependents, and DoD civilians)
  • Permanent resident card
  • Border crossing card
  • DHS-designated enhanced driver's license
  • Airline or airport-issued ID (if issued under a TSA-approved security plan)
  • Federally recognized, tribal-issued photo ID
  • HSPD-12 PIV card
  • Foreign government-issued passport
  • Canadian provincial driver's license or Indian and Northern Affairs Canada card
  • Transportation worker identification credential
  • Immigration and Naturalization Service Employment Authorization Card (I-766)