Legislature passes Real ID legislation as session’s end nears

The state House has voted to send to Governor Eric Greitens (R) a bill that would let Missourians choose whether to get an ID that complies with the federal Real ID Act of 2005.  Compliant licenses are needed to do things like board airplanes and enter military bases and federal buildings.

Representative Kevin Corlew (photo; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)
Representative Kevin Corlew (photo; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

Real ID was passed in response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.  In 2009 Missouri adopted a law barring compliance, citing concerns over citizens’ privacy because the Act required citizens to produce source documents that would then be stored electronically.  After January 2018, however, those who lack compliant IDs will not be able to get through federal security such as at airports and federal courthouses.

The sponsor of House Bill 151, Kevin Corlew (R-Kansas City), said the bill gives Missourians an option.

“We’ve heard from our citizens from our military bases, from our businesses, from people who travel and fly, from people who access military bases to visit their loved ones or to go to the grave sites or those who do business on them, they’ve requested that we provide this as an option so they can use their Missouri driver’s license.  They don’t have to get a national identification in the form of a passport.  Instead they can use their state-issued identification to access these, but also recognizing … there are some who would say I want my regular old Missouri driver’s license.  I don’t need the Real ID compliant, don’t want my source documents stored, whatever it be, then they have the freedom to choose the other one,” said Corlew.

Many lawmakers said the issue was the one they felt the most pressure from the public to solve.

Representative Charlie Davis (R-Webb City) told Corlew, “You would think that this year being such a tough budget year the number one number of emails I would’ve got was from the budget … 12 emails.  Real ID?  327 emails from my constituents, not from people across the state of Missouri.”

Corlew said the bill calls for the storage of documents required by Real ID to be done on a system that is not connected to the internet, making them more difficult to access.

“You know the scene from Mission Impossible with Tom Cruise dropping down [on a wire]?  I would think that’s what you would need to get it,” said Corlew.

Representative Rick Brattin (photo; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)
Representative Rick Brattin (photo; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

Still the measure faced some opposition from lawmakers who remain concerned about the privacy of citizens.  Representative Rick Brattin (R-Harrisonville) told Corlew that when the Jay Nixon Administration was learned to have shared information on Missouri concealed carry permit holders with the federal government, the internet was not involved.

“They scanned and had a disc made,” said Brattin.  “It’s still capable to have that scanned and sent off, so the problem that we already faced and encountered in the State of Missouri occurred and can still occur with this sort of system.”

Corlew said that is why the Senate put tougher provisions in the bill for punishing those who violate the privacy of those documents.

“The first of which is up to a year in prison under a Class-A misdemeanor and then it goes up from there with substantial jailtime for felonies,” said Corlew.

Still, the legislation passed 112-39 with broad bipartisan support.  It’s now up to Governor Greitens whether it will become law.