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Real ID measure passes through Oklahoma Senate

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

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 month,  House Bill 1845 was proposed, 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.

Earlier this month, the bill was heard by the Oklahoma House of Representatives and passed in a vote of 78-18.

“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.”

On Tuesday, the Oklahoma Senate voted to pass the bill 35-11.

“The Oklahoma Senate approved a measure that solves a problem the vast majority of Oklahomans wanted us to tackle. This bill brings us into compliance with the federal REAL ID law but also offers an opt-out for those who don’t want a REAL ID license,” said Sen. Mike Schulz, R-Altus. “Solving this issue has always been primarily about national security. This measure ensures the countless Oklahomans who work on military bases maintain access to those facilities so they can continue their important work supporting the men and women in our Armed Forces.

“This bill also means Oklahomans will continue to enjoy the convenience of using an Oklahoma driver license to board a commercial flight. I want to thank my Senate colleagues for supporting this legislation and working quickly to get it passed this session. I also appreciate Governor Mary Fallin and House Speaker Charles McCall for their leadership in moving this issue forward,” Schulz said

Now, the measure will head to Gov. Fallin’s desk to be signed into law.

“I’m pleased to see the Legislature work so quickly on this important issue. We cannot burden Oklahomans with the additional cost and hassle of providing identification to gain entrance to federal buildings, military bases or federal courthouses. And most certainly we can’t let them down by forcing them to have additional identification in order to board a commercial airliner in January. I look forward to receiving this bill on my desk.”

The Department of Public Safety released the following statement:

“The Department of Public Safety appreciates the members of the House and Senate, who voted to pass this important legislation allowing Oklahoma to be fully compliant with federal requirements,” said DPS Commissioner Michael C. Thompson.