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Meeting federal standards for state IDs is not yet a priority for Missouri lawmakers

ID checks might be more difficult for residents of Missouri, Illinois and two other states.
Department of Homeland Security

Missouri IDs do not meet the federal standard, and lawmakers are dragging their feet to do something about it. 

After 9/11, Congress passed the Real ID Act in 2005 as an extra security measure in airports and military facilities. The Department of Homeland Security’s Secure Driver’s Licenses web page includes a quote from The 9/11 Commission Report, “For terrorists, travel documents are as important as weapons.”

The act set stricter standards for state issued identification. Earlier this year, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jim Howard reported that Missouri Revenue Director Nia Ray told Homeland Security that Missouri law barred the state from complying with the new regulations. Homeland Security officials responded by citing several areas where Missouri was falling behind the federal standards, including:

  • Not marking Missouri driver’s licenses and ID cards with a DHS-approved security marking
  • Not clearly indicating when licenses are temporary or limited-term on their face
  • Not re-verifying an applicant’s Social Security number and lawful status along with other information not available at previous issuances or renewals 

According to Homeland Security’s website, Missourians can use non-complaint IDs in federal facilities until Jan. 22, 2018. After that time, if no changes have been made to current state IDs, Missourians will have to show alternate identification, such as a passport, at security checkpoints.

Rep. Mike Kelley, R-Lamar, sponsored Real ID legislation that died in a House committee this year. He says it just wasn’t a legislative priority: “At this point, the state isn’t feeling any effects from the Real ID issue, and I think because of that, there was enough other pressing issues this year that it just didn’t get the kind of push that was needed.”

Opponents of Real ID say the federal government could get ahold of too much personal information with the new regulations. On its website, Homeland Security addresses this issue directly by stating in its FAQ section:  

Kelley says people have a right to be concerned about government databases, but his proposal seeks to address those concerns by creating an optional, non-driver’s license compliant ID. 

“I am definitely on the side of being cautious,” said Kelley. “There’s enough things going on that people do have a right to be concerned on what information’s being shared and why its needed. I also understand that there’s a fine balance between that in national security.”

Kelley says he plans to pursue the issue next year. His Real ID bill was in the company of three other, similar versions sponsored by lawmakers from both sides of the isle (HB2138, HB2235, and SB 902). 

Twenty-three states and Washington, D.C., currently comply with Real ID standards. More states have extensions until later this year. Missouri is one of four non-compliant states listed on the Homeland Security website that has not been given an extension because it has not started making changes.

The Missouri Department of Revenue, the department in charge of issuing state IDs, did not respond to interview requests for this story.

Mallory Daily is an intern at the State Capitol Bureau for St. Louis Public Radio. Follow on Twitter: @malreports