On May 11th, 2005, the U.S. Congress enacted the the “REAL ID Act” which attempted to make the process of issuing drivers licenses and other state identifications more secure and less prone to fraud. We could argue about whether or not such an act was necessary, but it happened and more than 10 years later less than half of the states have made the necessary changes in their ID issuing system.
In 2009, the collective lawmakers of Missouri rose up and collectively said “No” to the REAL ID Act and Governor Jay Nixon himself signed the legislation that literally prevented the relevant state department, the Department of Revenue, from following the new federal guidelines. It was less of a bill and more of a temper tantrum. They rolled around on the floor and screamed at daddy Fed, wasting Missouri’s time and money by passing legislation that basically said “Forget you, government.”
The government of the State of Missouri has shown repeatedly that it is perfectly willing to to things that hurt the people of Show Me State or not do things that would benefit them if it means another chance to rebel against the dastardly federal government. They refused to expand Medicaid, which has been a serious missed opportunity for the state. But who cares about the sick and injured, they had an opportunity to score some points with the people who prefer to see the government destroyed from the inside.
So it’s especially ironic that just a few years later, specifically near the beginning of the 2016 legislative session, that lawmakers would be scrambling to introduce bills that would allow the Department of Revenue to come into federal ID compliance. At least three bills were proposed quickly to make this thing happen along with a “concurrent resolution” that “Urges the federal government to repeal the REAL ID Act”.
We’re being too nice! If we’re really going to fight this thing, we’ve got to threaten to secede if they don’t meet our demands! That’s the SEC way! The landlocked, independent nation of Missouri, that’s what I’m talking about!
They’re scrambling because there’s a deadline, because there’s a ticking clock that will prevent Missouri ID cards from being good enough for all situations. Because our cards and system aren’t in compliance with federal guidelines soon they won’t even be valid enough to get us on a plane. We’ve got until 2018 to fix this mess, or we’re all going to find it significantly harder to travel via air without a second form of identification. Plus, they haven’t set a date but soon our cards won’t even be valid enough to get us into federal facilities – that’s probably less of a problem than not being able to get on a plane, but it’s still a problem.
And we hear this chorus of “But there’s not going to be enough time!” Well, yeah, and there’s nobody to blame but the people who sent a mighty legislative “No” and then spent a few years being smug about their refusal and hoping that somehow everything would work out without any more required action. Don’t attempt to blame anyone or anything else for the emergency that you created.
And it’s also especially ironic that the legislature continues considering and occasionally passing stricter Voter ID Laws when Missouri IDs don’t even currently meet federal security standards. Voter fraud is so uncommon that it is practically non-existent, yet they keep passing legislation against that dead horse, passing bills very similar to ones that have previously been thrown out for being unconstitutional. Don’t be surprised when this is the fate of the recently passed voter ID legislation.
So don’t spend time too much time choosing the new state whatever and introducing toothless legislation designed to make people feel good – solve the problems that need solving before the deadline comes.
Travis McMullen is a longtime Sedalia resident who shares his views on the city through his weekly Democrat column.