Time to get serious on REAL ID compliance
If you enjoy spending long hours in line at the DOL or being forced to spend your hard-earned money on unnecessary fees, you're going to love the REAL ID compliance bill put forward in the state Senate.
For everyone else, allow us to explain why long lines and new fees may soon be in your future. For the sake of context, let's go back 13 years.
In 2004, the bipartisan 9/11 Commission issued its final report on the worst attack in our nation's history. In the report, the ten commissioners recommended the federal government establish security standards for state-issued driver's licenses and ID cards to prevent terrorists from being able to launch another attack. “For terrorists, travel documents are as important as weapons,” they said.
Nearly one year later, Congress passed the REAL ID Act. Although participation by states is voluntary, as of Jan. 22, 2018, federal agencies will not accept driver's licenses or ID cards from residents of noncompliant states.
Here's where we come in.
Washington state remains one of a handful of states not in compliance with the REAL ID Act. In fact, Washington is the only state in the nation that does not require proof of legal presence in order to obtain a standard driver's license.
Our state remaining out of compliance means you are currently unable to obtain a visitor's pass at Joint Base Lewis-McChord or enter certain federal facilities using your driver's license. It also means in nine short months, the TSA will have no choice but to escort you to the door at SeaTac before you even have a chance to take your shoes off.
Instead of solving the problem and bringing our state into compliance, the bill introduced in the Senate would make your life more difficult.
Under Senate Bill 5008, the DOL would be required to mark standard issue driver's licenses and ID cards as noncompliant with the REAL ID Act. Instead of using your state-issued ID to get through security at the airport, you would need to purchase an enhanced driver's license at the DOL or apply to the U.S. State Department for a passport.
This “fix” doesn't make sense.
First, there is no compelling reason to require law-abiding Washingtonians to stand in long lines and pay exorbitant fees for new documentation. Second, the bill fails to meet the REAL ID Act's security standards as recommended by the 9/11 Commission.
Instead of taking Washington's security seriously, Senate Bill 5008 continues a policy of allowing anyone in the state to acquire the same, noncompliant driver's license or ID card.
This is wrong, which is why we've introduced House Bill 2176. Our bill would bring the state into full compliance with federal REAL ID standards. Come next year, anyone who is able to prove their identity and lawful presence would be able to board an airplane using the same standard driver's license they have today. No increased costs, no additional hassle. For those here without legal status, state law would still allow a driver's license or ID card to be issued; it just wouldn't be valid for federal purposes.
Full compliance with the REAL ID Act is necessary because the threat of terrorism is real and unrelenting. Since 9/11, we've seen attacks carried out in Orlando, San Bernardino, Boston, Fort Hood and in several other cities. A threat this serious requires a thoughtful solution, which is why we must put your safety at the forefront and bring our state into full compliance with the REAL ID Act. The clock is ticking.
Rep. Mark Hargrove, R-Covington, serves as the assistant ranking Republican on the House Transportation Committee, as well as on the House Education and House Rules committees.
Rep. Matt Shea, R-Spokane Valley, serves as caucus chair for the Washington State House Republicans, and serves on the House Judiciary and House Transportation committees.