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Lawton representative "confident" state will comply with REAL ID Act

(Source KSWO) (Source KSWO)

LAWTON, OK (KSWO) - One southwest Oklahoma lawmaker says he's confident the state will finally get in compliance with the federal REAL ID Act before their June deadline.

Tuesday, the Department of Homeland Security announced another 5-month extension for Oklahoma to meet the requirements of the Act. The federal government approved REAL ID back in 2005 to make driver's licenses harder to forge, as well as to create a national database to prevent illegal immigration and terrorism. If the Oklahoma legislature is not able to get our driver's licenses in compliance, they will no longer be able to get us onto military installations or airplanes, instead, forcing Oklahomans to have a passport.

Without compliance, in January 2018 Oklahomans would no longer be allowed to use their driver’s licenses for identification to board planes. Also, starting next month you wouldn't have been able to use your driver's licenses to get into federal buildings like courthouses or military installations like Fort Sill.

The Department of Homeland Security granted this extension to Oklahoma until June 6th but says they will not grant another extension if the legislature does not work towards compliance during this legislative session. They did, however, say they may grant another extension if Oklahoma can at least make a commitment to reaching REAL ID compliance. Lawton representative John Montgomery says right now he feels very confident something can be done.

"My understanding is the first week of the legislative session, we'll have a bill that will be rolled out that does that, that fits the criteria and will comply,” Montgomery said.

But if they don't agree, everyone in Oklahoma who wants to get onto federal property after this extension runs out in June would need to get a passport, which is the easiest of the federally-approved forms for most of us to obtain. Representative Montgomery says they don't want it to go that far.

"I do think that we can put out an ID that respects people's personal concerns and things like that with this program and at the same time enables the vast majority of folks to still be able to access their governments, access their travel and those kinds of things,” Montgomery said.

But Montgomery says the legislature's refusal to act sooner has created another financial hurdle.

"Initially when REAL ID first came out, there were some federal dollars to help put the driver's licenses in compliance, to update the systems and stuff like that. Of course, those federal dollars are long gone now,” Montgomery said.

Oklahoma IDs will still work as long as we are under that Homeland Security extension through June and won’t affect you getting on a plane until 2018. The legislative session starts on February 6th and ends May 26th. 

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