Feds back off REAL ID Act deadline again

Oklahoma has been granted another extension from the Department of Homeland Security, which is trying to force the state to implement the REAL ID Act.

According to the DHS, Oklahoma must take action in the upcoming legislative session to bow to their demands or future extension requests will be denied.

The federal government and the liberal news media have been trying to stir up public support for the program by claiming that unless Oklahoma – and many other states – comply with the REAL ID Act, federal authorities will not accept Oklahoma drivers’ licenses to enter a federal building, military base or federal courthouse. And the big threat is that Oklahomans would not be able to board commercial aircraft.

However, a passport is sufficient for entry into federal buildings and the air travel requirement is not scheduled to start until January 22, 2018.

Gov. Mary Fallin said Oklahoma got an extension through June 6, 2017.

A DHS letter states that “for the duration of this extension, federal agencies may accept Oklahoma-issued drivers’ licenses and identification cards for official purposes in accordance with the phased enforcement schedule and existing agency policies.”

“Although this is great news for Oklahomans, this is only a temporary fix,” said Fallin. “While there will be no restrictions on individuals using Oklahoma licenses to fly or access federal buildings through June, legislation must be approved this session to make this permanent. I will continue to work with legislators, the state Department of Public Safety, Oklahoma’s congressional delegation and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to ensure a permanent solution is passed into law before this extension expires in June.”

Identical letters sent to Fallin and Senate President Pro Tempore Mike Schulz and House Speaker Charles McCall state that DHS “recognizes Oklahoma’s efforts in enhancing the security of its driver’s licenses and identification cards.”

“I’m pleased Oklahoma has been granted an extension by the Department of Homeland Security,” Schulz said. “DHS recognized Oklahoma’s sincere efforts to resolve issues in complying with the federal REAL ID law. This is an important issue for the thousands of Oklahomans whose livelihoods depend upon access to federal buildings and military installations, and it is an issue of convenience in regards to airline travel. There’s still more work to do to solve this issue permanently, but addressing REAL ID compliance will remain a high priority when the Legislature convenes in a few weeks.”

Fallin, Schulz and McCall wrote a letter last month to DHS requesting the extension.

Congress passed the REAL ID Act in 2005 to make driver’s licenses harder to forge by adding personal biometric information. Oklahoma legislators in 2007 passed a bill forbidding the state from meeting provisions of the act because it is seen as an intrusion into privacy.

Other states that have received extensions include New York, Idaho, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Dakota, Rhode Island and Texas.