State government inaction is causing a major league migraine for all Oklahomans needing to visit a military base or fly on a commercial airline.
The Real ID act was passed by Congress 11 years ago, in 2005, but Oklahoma has yet to comply by placing enhanced security features on state-issued driver’s licenses.
Signed after 9/11 by President George W. Bush, the federal Real ID law seeks to fortify state procedures to confirm people’s identities and to ensure that terrorists cannot manufacture bogus but realistic-looking driver’s licenses.
But, Oklahoma didn’t buy into the need for more secure ID cards. In fact, in 2007, the state passed a law prohibiting Real ID compliance, fueled by cries of federal overreach and privacy problems.
With the domestic and international security concerns we have today, such arguments now look naïve and silly.
The state Legislature must promptly get this 2007 law off the Oklahoma books.
Then, legislators and the governor must quickly approve a plan to get Oklahoma into compliance so state driver’s licenses will continue to be acceptable for entrance into a federal facility.
As of now, Jan. 10, 2017, is the day on which Oklahoma driver’s licenses no longer will be acceptable forms of identification for admission to Vance Air Force Base or any other U.S. military installation. On Jan. 10, everyone who doesn’t have some form of Department of Defense-issued ID card will need to present an alternative form of government identification, such as a passport or permanent resident or alien registration card.
Even more Oklahomans will be impacted the following year if they want to take commercial flights.
The state has until January 2018 before the same restrictions apply at the security lines at Will Rogers World Airport or other commercial complexes.
It may seem ridiculous to require a passport for an Oklahoman to fly from Tulsa to Memphis or Oklahoma City to Dallas, but that’s exactly what will happen if the Legislature doesn’t act quickly.
Real ID is not a Big Brother conspiracy. Real ID-compliant licenses contain additional security features designed to help make them less susceptible to counterfeiting or tampering.
Oklahoma’s one chance to avoid this potential train wreck is to show its clear intention to comply with the federal law and then seek yet another delay in federal enforcement deadlines.
The Department of Homeland Security recently granted Oklahoma and several others states a 90-day grace period from the previous Oct. 10 enforcement deadline.
However, the feds are unlikely to keep delaying enforcement of the 2005 law as long as Oklahoma still is on the record stating it will not comply with Real ID.
Convincing the feds that Oklahoma indeed will change requires leadership from the state’s chief executive. Gov. Mary Fallin needs to strongly endorse compliance with Real ID and include money for changing the state’s license-issuing system in her state budget.
That’s not a small item, because it will take many months and millions of dollars to fully implement the change. But the change must happen, and quickly.
We hope such clear intentions give the state enough goodwill that, with a little encouragement from the state’s congressional delegation, the feds will give Oklahoma yet another extension.
Real ID could be a real problem for a lot of Oklahomans if the governor and Legislature fail to act.
—Enid News & Eagle