OKLAHOMA CITY – A bill that would allow Oklahomans to become compliant with a national law is on its way to 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.
Even though the Real ID Act was passed in 2005, it hasn’t been fully enforced until now.
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.
On Wednesday, the House Rules Committee voted 9-0 to pass the bill, sending it to the full House of Representatives.
Osborn says she expects the bill to be considered next week.