Beginning Thursday, Missourians will no longer be able to use their state-issued driver’s license to gain access to a military base, such as Whiteman Air Force Base, due to the REAL ID Act.
According to the U.S. Homeland Security website, the REAL ID Act was passed by Congress in 2005, enacting the 9/11 Commission’s recommendation that the Federal Government “set standards for the issuance of sources of identification, such as driver’s licenses.” The Act established minimum security standards for state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards and prohibits Federal agencies from accepting licenses or identification cards from states that do not meet the standards.
So far, less than half of states — 23 plus Washington, D.C. — have complied with the REAL ID Act, Missouri not being one of them. In fact, in 2009, the Missouri legislature approved a law that barred the state from complying. Minnesota, Washington and American Samoa are also not compliant.
Twenty-four states, plus Puerto Rico, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands and the U.S. Virgin Islands, also aren’t compliant but have an extension, allowing Federal agencies to accept driver’s licenses from these states until Oct. 10.
To gain access to Whiteman Air Force Base, citizens have two options: use another federally-recognized form of photo ID, such as a U.S. passport, or use their Missouri-issued driver’s license and be escorted by an authorized person during the entire time the citizen is on base. If Missouri stays non-compliant, it could eventually affect Missourians trying to board a plane.
State Rep. Nathan Beard, R-Sedalia, said REAL ID was discussed during the last legislative session and that he thought it would “definitely” be brought up during the current session. He added that during the discussion there wasn’t much of a consensus on what Missouri should do when it comes to REAL ID.
“There are certainly strong interests in arguments that deal with privacy that people have problems with and the Federal government has placed us in that position,” he said by phone Wednesday afternoon from Jefferson City. “We’re still trying to figure that out. It might be too much to ask for everyone to have a passport to get on base, but at the same time we’re still trying to figure out what other options there might be.”
Beard said one of those options, which he said he thinks is the most realistic, is giving Missourians the option to comply with REAL ID when getting a new license.
“Basically it would be an option to the citizens in Missouri to go to the DMV and provide the necessary personal documents required to get a compliant ID. Then they have the option if they want to give up those documents and personal information they could do it, get an ID to satisfy the rule to get on base,” he explained. “If you have an issue with the privacy issue you can get a passport or don’t go on base. It satisfies both camps. Of course there’s a price tag attached to it.”
Beard said he will be affected by the change as he is a member of the Base Community Council, which meets on the base once a month to talk about how the Sedalia, Knob Noster and Whiteman communities can partner together. He said he has an ID issued by the base for Council members, but it is not REAL ID compliant so he can no longer use it. He added that base officials had the idea for Council members to meet at the golf course across the street and authorized persons would pick up the members on golf carts and then chaperone them during their time on base.
It could also cause problems for civilian vendors and contractors or family members who don’t have a compliant ID and are trying to access Whiteman — now they’ll need proper ID or an escort, which can take base workers away from their jobs to act as chaperones.
“What I’m concerned about is my Knob Noster constituents who perhaps are divorced — the father is a military member but the mother is not and the children attend school on base,” Beard said. “That puts the mother in a pickle to get on base to get the children after school — what’s she going to do? Without a passport, we have a problem.
“The base is really bending over backwards and working some miracles to find some middle ground that is still compliant,” he added. “It’s an issue that will definitely crop up (this legislative session).”
Nicole Cooke can be reached at 660-530-0138 or @NicoleRCooke.