The state House has proposed a bill that would allow Missourians to choose whether to get a state ID that complies with the federal Real ID Act of 2005, so they can use it to do things like enter military bases and board planes.
House Bill 151 is sponsored by Representative Kevin Corlew (R-Kansas City), who called it a compromise, allowing Missourians to keep non-compliant IDs if they wish. His Republican caucus was divided over the legislation, though, with some saying the Real ID Act threatens individuals’ privacy and personal information.
The Act was passed as part of the federal government’s response to the terror attacks of September 11, 2001. In 2009 the Missouri legislature and then-Governor Jay Nixon (D), citing privacy concerns, adopted a law barring the state from issuing compliant IDs. After January 2018, however, those without non-compliant IDs will not be able to get through airport security, and some federal facilities already enforce such a restriction.
It is that deadline that prompted Corlew’s legislation.
“We need to allow our citizens to choose a Real ID-compliant license so that they’ll be able to get on an airplane to fly across the United States or to fly to another state without having to go to the expense and time and burden of getting a passport, or passport card, or producing additional identification,” said Corlew. “We need to be able to do that so that our businesses who service our military basis, also our family members who have military families throughout the country, that they can go and visit their loved ones, to see their graduations, to be a part of those ceremonies.”
Representative Steve Lynch’s (R-Waynesville) district includes Fort Leonard Wood, which quit accepting non-compliant IDs last year. He said he has seen, as much as anyone in the House, how the issue is impacting Missourians.
“Everywhere I go, every weekend, I run across people that stop me and tell me we need to fix this issue. People are angry. They are frustrated,” said Lynch.
Opponents of the bill include Representative Robert Ross (R-Yukon), who called the choice proponents say the bill presents a “total joke.”
Ross said the state is being “coerced” to adopt Real ID compliance by being told, “Your citizens are not going to be able to fly, they’re not going to be able to step onto a nuclear facility, we’re not going to let you into a military installation – which is completely false too. If you’ve got a Missouri ID and a social security card, birth certificate, any other piece of identification, you can go in.”
Representative Rick Brattin (R-Harrisonville) said he is concerned the personal documents and information used to get a compliant ID will land in a government database.
“Everybody may think that this is a black helicopter mentality, but I do not think that this sort of information on a database, especially when it becomes completely nationwide, in the hands of a government, will ever be used for good,” said Brattin.
Others, like Representative Kevin Engler (R-Farmington), said voting against HB 151 would be denying constituents the ability to get a state-issued ID they can use to exercise their rights.
“I would suggest this: If you look up and you see a ceiling, vote ‘Yes.’ If you look up and you see what might be the bottom of an alien spacecraft that’s coming down, and will beam us up to probe us, then vote, ‘No,’” said Engler.
The bill was passed with bipartisan support, 99-40, and now goes to the state Senate.