Oklahoma House of Representatives approves bill to become compliant with Real ID Act

OKLAHOMA CITY – A bill that would allow Oklahomans to become compliant with a national law has been approved by the Oklahoma House of Representatives.

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.

In January, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced that Oklahoma had received an extension through June 6, 2017 to meet the requirements in the REAL ID Act.

But, the department warned that if the state failed to act during the 2017 legislative session on legislation committing Oklahoma to all the REAL ID requirements, the state could be denied for other extension requests.

Without the extension, federal agencies would have been prohibited from accepting Oklahoma driver’s licenses as proper identification cards.

In other words, if you do not have a form of identification that complies with the Real ID Act, you would 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 said 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.

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.

Last month, Rep. Leslie Osborn proposed House Bill 1845, which would resolve the law and give Oklahomans the choice of either getting a Real ID compliant license or keeping their current Oklahoma driver’s license.

The measure also allows individuals to opt to retain their noncompliant licenses or identification cards.

On Thursday, the bill was heard by the Oklahoma House of Representatives and passed in a vote of 78-18.

Now, it will head to the Oklahoma Senate for consideration.

“It was important to allow Oklahomans the option of keeping their current license,” said Osborn, R-Mustang, and chair of the House Appropriations and Budget Committee. “Many residents may not have a need for a REAL ID-compliant license or may be cautious about the over-sharing of information, and we wanted to make sure those individuals were not inconvenienced. This option garnered support by both Republicans and Democrats.”

While both the House of Representatives and the Senate say they are ready to pass legislation, 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.

That would mean that even if they pass a bill that is signed into law during the 2017 legislative session, it could take Oklahoma until 2019 to become compliant.

With the airline regulations set to go into effect in 2018, Oklahomans may need to either delay their travel plans or obtain a passport.

Data obtained by the lawmakers in November showed that around 30 percent of Oklahomans have a passport.

Oklahoma House Speaker Charles McCall issued the following statement after the passage of the Real ID compliance bill:

“The House has passed a bipartisan measure that would bring our state into compliance with federal law while protecting the privacy and freedom of our citizens. Our bill provides Oklahomans an opt out that would let those concerned about privacy receive a non-compliant state-issued ID, but provides a compliant ID that would allow citizens who need access to federal installations or who desire to travel the ability to do so. Our goal is a swift resolution of this issue, and I hope our colleagues in the Senate will quickly pass this measure so we can turn our attention to other matters important to the citizens of Oklahoma.”

Governor Fallin also released a statement:

“I’m pleased to see the House of Representatives taking action on this measure so early in the legislative session. This measure addresses the necessary steps to meet all the requirements of the REAL ID Act. I look forward to similar quick action in the Senate.   We cannot burden Oklahomans with the additional cost and hassle of providing identification to gain entrance to federal buildings, military bases or federal courthouses.  Failure to approve this measure also will force those with just Oklahoma driver’s licenses to have additional identification in order to board a commercial airliner beginning in January.”