State takes step toward ID compliance

HARRISBURG (AP) –A Pennsylvania Senate committee Wednesday took the first step toward getting the state in compliance with the federal REAL ID law and avoiding potential travel restrictions.

The Communications and Technology Committee recommended repealing a 2012 state law that prohibited the state from moving ahead with enhanced driver’s license and identification ID card procedures to make the cards more difficult to duplicate. The REAL ID law was passed in 2005 in response to the 2001 terrorist attacks, but state officials said the requirements were too expensive and violated privacy laws by essentially creating a federal ID card.

The federal Department of Homeland Security told the state late last year that it would prevent residents from using state-issued cards to enter many federal buildings by the end of January and from passing through airport security in January 2018 unless the cards were changed. Last month, after Gov. Tom Wolf and state legislative leaders vowed to take steps to address the situation, federal officials gave the state until June 6 to show progress on REAL ID compliance.

The bill still has to be approved by the full Senate and House of Representatives before it becomes law. Once that is approved, legislators are expected to propose bills to alter the state’s driver’s licenses and ID cards.