Sen. John Sparks, D-Norman, and Sen. Kay Floyd, D-Oklahoma City, filed legislation Tuesday to resolve Oklahoma’s ongoing non-compliance with the Real ID Act of 2005.
“Today, we filed SB 865 to bring Oklahoma into compliance with the Real ID Act of 2005,” Sparks said. “This bill will ensure that Oklahoma’s driver licenses and identification cards meet the requirements set forth in the Act. This will guarantee Oklahomans are not inconvenienced or at a disadvantage when it comes to dealing with federal agencies, accessing military installations, or, in 2016, boarding a commercial aircraft.”
The Real ID Act was signed into law by President George W. Bush in May of 2005. Currently, Oklahoma is not compliant with the Act due to legislation passed in 2007. While Oklahoma was given an extension to comply with the Real ID Act, according to the Department of Public Safety, the extension expires on October 10, 2015. Beginning October 10, anyone with business at a federal court, social security office or military installation will not be able to enter those facilities without a passport, according to the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety.
“When you think of all the military installations we have in our state, plus the federal courts and social security offices, it is easy to see this will be a huge disruption for Oklahomans who need to access these facilities,” Sparks said. “We’re not just talking about the military personnel and civilians who work there—this impacts everyone, from FedEx employees dropping off and picking up packages to the person delivering bread to the commissary. We cannot afford to interrupt day-to-day business at our federal buildings and military installations. We need to solve this problem promptly.”
It’s a problem that will get even worse if Oklahoma fails to bring the state into compliance. By 2016, Oklahomans will no longer be able to use their state driver licenses or identification cards for commercial flight. Instead, they would have to use a passport—something only 30 percent of Oklahomans have.
“This is a serious issue that we need to resolve as quickly and efficiently as possible,” Floyd said. “By filing this legislation, we can at least ensure that this solution will be on the table when session starts in February, 2016. That is as quickly as the process can move at this point, which could still leave Oklahomans in the lurch when it comes to needing a compliant form of identification.”
Sparks noted that the governor does have the option of calling a special session to resolve the issue immediately.
“If certain deadline-related rules were suspended, we could resolve this issue in a single day,” Sparks said. “We need to work diligently to resolve this problem before thousands of Oklahomans who don’t have passports find they can’t board a commercial flight or do business at a federal facility because our state failed to act.”