Missouri asks feds for extension on REAL ID law

JEFFERSON CITY • Missouri has formally asked the federal government to give officials until March 2019 to begin rolling out new, more secure driver’s licenses.

In a letter sent to the Department of Homeland Security Thursday, Gov. Eric Greitens outlined the state’s plan to comply with the federal REAL ID law, which requires stricter security features.

“This plan includes specific milestones demonstrating Missouri’s commitment to and progress towards full compliance,” the governor wrote.

It is hoped that the request garners the state an extension to its current waiver, which expires Oct. 10.

Missouri lawmakers have been at odds with the law since it went into effect in 2005 as part of a post-Sept. 11, 2001 response to terrorism, expressing concern that the provisions could allow citizens’ personal information to be hacked or misused.

In 2009, Missouri approved a law prohibiting the Department of Revenue from complying with the new regulations, joining more than a dozen other states enacting similar bans.

But support for that law started to unravel when contractors and truckers began having trouble getting into federal facilities like Fort Leonard Wood and Whiteman Air Force Base that require the enhanced IDs.

And, with the federal government threatening to bar people from using their Missouri driver’s licenses to board planes beginning on Jan. 22, the Legislature and Greitens approved a plan this spring to begin offering a federally compliant license.

The new law allows people to have the option of getting an enhanced ID or continuing to use the non-compliant ID.

In the letter to Acting DHS Secretary Elaine Duke, the governor outlines a two-step plan aimed at launching the new cards within the next 18 months.

The first phase, which will run through June 2018, will focus on getting federal approval for the design of the new identification cards.

The second phase is aimed at getting final approval by March 2019. Among the tasks is finalizing fingerprint background checks on Department of Revenue employees who work with driver’s licenses and identification cards.

The governor also is directing the department to participate in quarterly reviews with Homeland Security during the implementation period.

For now, travelers could avoid any potential hang-ups in airports in January by obtaining a U.S. passport.

Source : http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/missouri-asks-feds-for-extension-on-real-id-law/article_af15f274-ce2d-546c-9b90-30deb2db3ebc.html

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