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Missouri given extension for Real ID compliance for military bases, nuclear plants

Ameren's Callaway nuclear power plant produces about 19 percent of the electricity the company generates in Missouri. It is the only nuclear energy facility in the state.
File photo | Véronique LaCapra | St. Louis Public Radio
Visitors to Ameren's Callaway nuclear power plant can use their current Missouri driver's license until Oct. 10, after which they must use a Real ID-compliant license.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has extended Missouri’s time to comply with the federal Real ID law, which means Missouri residents can use a current driver’s license to get into federal facilities, military bases and nuclear power plants.

Nationwide, Real ID-compliant identification has been required to get into such facilities since October 2015. Missouri’s extension goes through Oct. 10, Homeland Security spokeswoman Justine Whelan said. The extension was granted Monday. 

Gov. Eric Greitens signed a bill last month giving state residents the option to get driver’s licenses or other identification cardsthat comply with the Real ID guidelines. Missouri residents have until Jan. 22, 2018, to obtain Real ID-compliant identification to board airplanes.

Republican U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt was one of the original co-sponsors of the 2005 REAL ID Act.

“The concept of an extension is a measure of cooperation between DHS and the state,” Whelan said. “Obviously, implementation can’t happen overnight. States need maybe funds, resources, infrastructure, whatever it may be. In which case, we can see that they’re moving toward compliance and just need a little extra time.”

Spokespersons for Greitens and the state Department of Revenue did not return messages Tuesday about when Real ID-compliant identification would be available.

If Missouri residents don’t have a Real ID compliant driver’s license, they would have to show another form of identification, such as a passport. Whelan said “it’s too far out” to comment about future extensions.

“No states have extension that go [until January 2018],” Whelan said. “So states would have to have renewed extensions to be exempt from having alternative identification at airports.”

Once Real ID-compliant licenses are offered, a Missouri resident who wants to switch from their current license will have to pay the full price of a license: $16.

In a joint statement Tuesday, U.S. Sens. Claire McCaskill, a Democrat, and Republican Roy Blunt praised the extension. McCaskill said it’s “important that Missourians are able to continue business as usual while the state works on transitioning to new IDs,” while Blunt stated he’ll continue to work with DHS and Greitens to “ensure a smooth transition.”

Follow Jason on Twitter: @jrosenbaum

Jason is the politics correspondent for St. Louis Public Radio.