Harrisburg – Legislation introduced by state Sen. Kim Ward (R-Westmoreland) that would begin the process of Pennsylvania complying with the federal REAL ID Act continued its advance this week, with the Senate giving final passage to compliance legislation on Tuesday.
Passed in 2005, the federal REAL ID Act requires states to adopt specific, nationwide standards for state-issued driver’s licenses and ID cards in order to strengthen immigration enforcement and boost homeland security.
In 2012, Pennsylvania enacted Act 38, legislation that prohibits the commonwealth from complying with the REAL ID Act in any way.
Concerns expressed at the time were over privacy of the data collected and the potential that the information could also be used for some sort of nationwide registry.
Pennsylvania was recently granted a compliance extension until June 5, 2017, before state-issued identification cards would no longer be acceptable to grant access to US military bases and some other federal facilities.
As early as 2018, the failure to comply would mean Pennsylvania identification cards would not be acceptable to allow a person using such a card for identification to access air travel.
Senate Bill 133, as introduced by Sen. Ward, would repeal Act 38, require the Department of Transportation to seek another extension from the federal government, and require PennDOT to make additional steps toward compliance.
Despite continuing privacy concerns, Pennsylvania government officials have signaled a willingness to work with the federal government to develop a federally compliant identification that also addresses concerns levied by a number of states, including Pennsylvania.
In a letter sent to the federal government earlier this year, leaders in the House joined Senate colleagues and Gov. Tom Wolf in promising to work toward compliance.
The bill’s passage Tuesday by a 46-2 vote in the Senate sets the stage for the legislation to be taken up by the House, which returns to voting session April 3.