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Pennsylvania moves closer to replacing driver’s licenses with Real ID

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HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Time is running out for state officials to make sure Pennsylvania driver's license aren't rejected as a valid form of identification by the Department of Homeland Security.

Sen Ryan. Aument (R- District 36) said we're faced with limited entry to courthouses, airports and military bases unless the state complies with certain minimum security standards set forth by the federal government."

DHS gave Pennsylvania an extension until June 5, 2017 to fix a state law which prevents PennDOT from enacting a federal standard called Real ID.

Wednesday morning, the Senate Communications and Technology Committee appeared a bill to clear the way for Real ID in Pennsylvania, after spending the morning discussing concerns about what could happen if they didn't find a solution.

Getting through an airport could become more difficult for Pennsylvanians if officials don't change state law and driver's licenses.

Aviation Council of Pennsylvania president Scott Gray said "it certainly sounds strange you may need a passport to fly from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh."

That scenario could become a reality for all travelers unless state legislators change Act 38.

Act 38 prevents Pennsylvania from being in compliance with the Department of Homeland Security's Real ID standards.

Currently, state legislators are working on getting that law repealed by the June 5th extended deadline.

"Many legislators have been receiving quite a few phone calls from constituents, angry constituents and confused constituents, who have heard that their pennsylvania issued ID would no longer be acceptable to enter many federal buildings, military installations, or to fly domestically," Sen. Aument said.

Making it easier for passengers to get to the gate without needing a passport could be just one concern for checking travelers with a Real ID.

Harrisburg International Airport executive director Tim Edwards said "as it stands today about 1000 PA residents departing HIA per day, won't be able to fly as of January 22, 2018. "

Scott Gray/President, Aviation Council of PA:
"The repercussions for customer service, flight delays, and general airport operations could be overwhelming," Gray said.

Some may worry what that means for delays getting to where they need to go, others are concerned about where their personal information is headed, and who has access to it.

ACLU legislative director Andy Hoover said "legislators and citizens alike are very concerned about this idea of a nation wide database of all license holders and all non-driving ID holders."

Meanwhile, the senate hearing to find a solution for Pennsylvanians is the first step towards compliance.

"New Hampshire, Arizona and Washington have created a Dual ID system, and in that system, license and non-driving ID holders CAN choose a card that is compliant with real ID and one that is not," Hoover said.

Rep: Ed Neilson (D-District 174) said "until we repeal and say ok, we can conform, we can't take those additional steps. So, this is the first step of many to have us in compliance and we have to work. Security is a big thing."

Once the House takes up the bill, Neilson expects legislators to quickly get it to the governor to sign off on it. Afterwards, PennDOT will be able to begin working on a solution with DHS.