JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri lawmakers gave final approval Thursday night to a measure intended to avert a potentially frustrating scenario in which untold numbers of Missouri residents could have been turned away at airports because their driver’s licenses no longer are accepted as valid identification.
The legislation gives Missouri residents the option of getting driver’s licenses or state identification cards that comply with the stricter proof-of-identity requirements contained in federal Real ID Act. The federal government has said that IDs from states not in compliance with the Real ID Act will no longer be accepted at airports starting on Jan. 22.
“I want to be able to get on an airplane, and I want the residents of my district to get on the airplane,” said Missouri state Rep. Clem Smith, a Democrat from St. Louis County who was part of the 112-39 vote in support of the bill.
The legislation passed the Senate earlier this week and next goes to Gov. Eric Greitens, who has expressed his support.
Missouri law currently prohibits compliance with the Real ID Act, which was passed under former President George W. Bush as a response to the 2001 terrorist attacks. The FBI determined the Sept. 11 hijackers had obtained valid identification cards from various states, and a special commission recommended the federal government develop standards for issuing identification cards as a way to help prevent terrorism and fraud.
But Missouri has resisted Real ID, partly because of privacy concerns over requirements to create a database containing applicants’ personal information such as their birth certificates.
Republican Rep. Rick Brattin, of Harrisonville, said forcing people to relinquish personal documents in order to fly amounted to an unreasonable search and seizure.
“The Fourth Amendment says that without a search warrant the government does not have the right to take what is yours,” Brattin said. “This is such a breach of people’s rights.”
Missouri is one of just four states — along with Maine, Minnesota and Montana — listed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as out of compliance with the Real ID Act that have not been given an extension of time to comply. Maine and Montana also recently passed legislation that brings them one step closer to meeting federal standards, and Minnesota gives people the option to apply for an enhanced ID that would allow them to fly and enter federal facilities.
Missouri driver’s licenses and identification cards already are no longer accepted at some military bases and federal facilities. Some places, including Ft. Leonard Wood in Missouri, allow people to use a noncompliant ID with extra identification such as a birth certificate or Social Security card.
The restrictions have caused hassles for some truckers dropping off loads at military bases.
“The trucking companies are pleading with us. They want to voluntarily get the Real ID licenses,” said state Rep. Charlie Davis, a Republican from Webb City.
The new legislation would offer Missouri residents the option of getting driver’s licenses and identification cards that either comply or don’t with the Real ID Act. The proposal would take some time to implement. But supporters hope it will show that Missouri is attempting to comply with the Real ID law and persuade federal officials to continue accepting Missouri IDs at airport checkpoints next year.