PA Senate committee approved REAL ID bill

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Harrisburg, Pa. — The Senate Communications and Technology Committee approved legislation today designed to advance the conversation regarding Pennsylvania’s compliance with the federal REAL ID Act, according to Committee Chairman Senator Ryan P. Aument (R-Lancaster).

In 2005, the federal government passed the REAL ID Act requiring states to adopt specific standards for state-issued driver’s licenses and ID cards in order to strengthen immigration enforcement and boost homeland security, Senate Republicans wrote in a statement. The Pennsylvania General Assembly passed a law in response that prohibits the state from participating in the act due to concerns regarding the cost of compliance and questions pertaining to privacy issues.

Failure to comply with the REAL ID Act would mean Pennsylvania driver’s licenses and state-issued ID cards would not be considered a valid form of identification for the purposes of boarding an airplane or entering federal buildings or nuclear power plants, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Although the new requirements were supposed to go into effect on January 30, Pennsylvania received an extension until June 6 to allow additional time to comply with the federal mandate, the department of Homeland Security explained in its website.

Senate Bill 133, sponsored by Sen. Kim Ward (R-Westmoreland), would repeal the state law that prevents Pennsylvania from complying with federal law and allow the state to begin having discussions with Federal authorities on how Pennsylvania may become compliant. The Senator also indicated that whatever plan is developed for compliance must include an opt-out provision to accommodate those with religious or security concerns.

“The extension of the federal deadline gives us an opportunity to keep the lines of communications open regarding the best ways for Pennsylvania to meet this mandate from the federal government,” Aument said. “Moving this bill forward is an important step toward finding a resolution that helps us avoid the very real restrictions that will be imposed on our constituents if we fail to comply.”

Senate Bill 133 still needs full approval from both chambers — Pennsylvania House of Representatives and Pennsylvania Senate — and Gov. Wolf’s signature before it becomes law.

Source: Pennsylvania Senate Republicans