Idaho moved closer to meeting federal ID requirements for air travel and access to federal facilities Tuesday with a Senate vote to lift the Legislature’s 2008 ban on complying amid security and cost concerns.
The 27-7 vote sends the measure back to the House for approval of minor changes, then likely to the governor’s office for signature. The House passed an earlier version last week, 53-14.
The federal REAL ID program requires states to strengthen security requirements for issuing driver licenses. At the time it was enacted, changes for enhanced security would have cost the state millions of dollars. That prompted lawmakers to balk based on cost as well as concerns over keeping the collected information secure from hackers.
Nearly all of the security enhancements have since been implemented and now Idaho’s procedures mostly comply, except for a requirement that existing drivers present an official birth certificate when they renew. Drivers obtaining a license for the first time already face this requirement.The bill approved Tuesday lifts the ban on state transportation officials taking action to meet REAL ID’s requirements.
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The federal government has issued Idaho and other states repeated extensions on compliance but has signaled no more extensions will be granted. Enforcing the regulations could mean air travel restrictions for Idahoans.
In earlier committee hearings and on the Senate floor Tuesday, a few lawmakers said they still had concerns about the security of collected information that would be scanned and stored electronically by the state.
"Some of the concerns that we’ve had about Real ID have gone away. Some have not," said Sen. Steve Vick, R-Dalton Gardens.
Six states and territories including Washington are not in REAL ID compliance, although Washington offers an enhanced license that meets federal standards. The District of Columbia and 22 states are in full compliance. Idaho and 24 other states and territories have received extensions.
REAL ID is slated to take full effect in 2018.
Note: This story has been updated to reflect that the Senate-approved bill must go back to the House for approval of minor amendments before going to the governor.