State Politics

Idaho’s compliance with federal air travel rules in holding pattern

A sample Idaho driver’s license.
A sample Idaho driver’s license.

Idaho’s compliance with federal ID rules for air travel and entrance to federal facilities made it through the legislative equivalent of airport security Monday, but not without a full body pat-down.

A panel of lawmakers voted Monday to amend the proposed lifting of the state’s 2008 ban on complying with the federal REAL ID act amid lingering questions about the law’s scope. A divided House Transportation Committee voted 9-8 to move the bill to the House floor for changes.

REAL ID requires states to beef up security for issuing driver licenses. Idaho’s licensing procedures already mostly comply except for a requirement that existing drivers present an official birth certificate when they renew. New drivers already face this requirement.

Specifically, the bill authorizes state transportation officials only to move forward with meeting REAL ID requirements. Idaho and other states have received extensions but the federal government has warned officials that their time is up. The current extension expires in October. Enforcing the regulations could mean air travel restrictions for Idahoans.

Sponsor Joe Palmer, R-Meridian, the committee chairman, told colleagues his earlier concerns about implementation cost and privacy implications had been addressed. But other lawmakers raised concerns that the bill committed Idaho to implementing all of REAL ID’s provisions.

The motion to amend came from Rep. Sage Dixon, R-Ponderay.

“I may have been OK with just repealing (the ban),” Dixon said. “But if it still tied us to everything else that’s in REAL ID, then that’s where a lot of my concern is.”

In the end, Palmer voted to support the motion.

“I don’t think anybody is against moving forward. It’s just the way it’s written,” he said. “I still believe that we’ll get a bill that will move us toward REAL ID.”

Six states and territories including Washington are not in REAL ID compliance, although Washington’s enhanced driver license meets federal standards. The District of Columbia and 22 states are in full compliance. Idaho and 24 other states and territories have an extension. REAL ID is slated to take full effect in 2018.

Bill Dentzer: 208-377-6438, @IDSBillD