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Oklahoma House passes REAL ID bill; heads to Senate

Nick Oxford / Red Dirt Report
A TSA officer checks a passenger's ID at Will Rogers World Airport.
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OKLAHOMA CITY – On Thursday, the Oklahoma House of Representatives passed House Bill 1845, which would bring Oklahoma into compliance with the federal REAL ID Act and solve a dilemma that has haunted the state for several years.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety, REAL ID is a coordinated effort by the states and the federal government to improve the reliability and accuracy of state-issued identification documents, which should inhibit terrorists' ability to evade detection by using fraudulent identification.

REAL ID implements a 9/11 Commission recommendation urging the federal government to "set standards for the issuance of sources of identification, such as driver's licenses."

However, Oklahoma passed a law in 2007 that said Oklahoma wouldn’t comply with the REAL ID Act, citing concerns about how information would be stored. However, 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 if the state failed to meet REAL ID requirements, the state could be denied for other extension requests.

“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,” said Oklahoma House Speaker Charles McCall.

“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.”

Beginning on Jan. 22, 2018, state driver’s licenses or IDs that are not compliant with the REAL ID Act will not be accepted to board a commercial aircraft within the United States. And even if the legislation passes, many Oklahomans will still not have the new driver’s licenses in hand by time the 2018 deadline arrives.

In June, DPS Commissioner Michael Thompson the state may take at least two years after a bill is passed to become compliant. Military IDs and passports, however, are in compliance with the REAL ID Act.

The House passed HB 1845 by a vote of 78-18. The bill resolves the law and gives Oklahomans a choice to either keep their current license or get a REAL ID license.

“I’m pleased to see the House of Representatives taking action on this measure so early in the legislative session,” said Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin. “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.”

HB 1845 now goes to the Senate for consideration.

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Heide Brandes

Heide Brandes is an award-winning journalist and editor with more than 18 years of experience....

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Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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