(TNS) -- It’s now a dozen years since Congress overwhelmingly passed the Real ID Act and placed certain requirements on states to comply. That’s long enough.
The Missouri General Assembly’s “to-do” list for its 2017 legislative session still holds several important items. But nothing defines dysfunction more than the continued failure to give residents the option of getting an ID that meets the standards of the 2005 federal law.
All but a handful of states are in compliance, or nearly so. This group includes Kansas, Nebraska and Iowa. Only Missouri stands apart in this region.
The law is intended to tighten standards for IDs accepted by the federal government for “official purposes,” as defined by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The law includes requirements about how long source documents used to obtain an ID must be retained and prohibitions on the uses of non-compliant forms of ID.
Already, current Missouri driver’s licenses cannot be used as a form of ID when entering most military installations; Missouri visitors are required to have a passport or other federal ID. Starting in January 2018, current licenses no longer will be accepted as an ID when boarding a domestic airline flight at an airport.
Opponents have cited concerns about privacy and constitutionality in resisting the implementation of the new ID requirements. Others, however, make the commonsense argument that they should not be prevented — just based on their state of residence — from obtaining a compliant ID.
The Real ID Act was born out of concerns for terrorism, both foreign and domestic. As authorities worked to institute improvements, they quickly came to understand that multiple states each had their own methods, and in some cases porous procedures, for determining who should receive a photo ID, such as a driver’s license.
Was it a federal mandate or requirement? Yes, but to provide for the common defense and protection of American citizens. Does it intrude on privacy? That’s contingent on the safeguards that are built into the implementation requirements, which still rely on individual states to keep their own databases and to share data only when verifying someone’s identity.
Among the options before the legislature is a proposal that would create a hybrid system in Missouri. The state Department of Revenue would be instructed to conform to the federal requirements for driver’s licenses and other forms of state-issued IDs; but the state also could allow individual citizens to opt out of the new IDs.
At the minimum, Missouri should adopt this idea and allow the large majority of the state’s residents to go about their lives without being inconvenienced because we didn’t comply with the Real ID requirements.
©2017 the St. Joseph News-Press (St. Joseph, Mo.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.