Tuesday, January 3, 2017
OKLAHOMA CITY – Governor Mary Fallin along with legislative leaders today announced that Oklahoma has received an extension through June 6, 2017, to meet the requirements in the REAL ID Act. But the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) warned that failure for the state to act during the 2017 legislative session on legislation committing Oklahoma to all the REAL ID requirements could result in the denial of future extension requests.
Without the extension, federal agencies later this month would have been prohibited from accepting Oklahoma driver's licenses and identification cards, meaning those without identification that complies with the REAL ID Act won't be able to enter a federal building, military base or courthouse. REAL ID enforcement for boarding commercial aircraft is scheduled to begin Jan. 22, 2018.
The letter states that “for the duration of this extension, federal agencies may accept Oklahoma-issued drivers’ licenses and identification cards for official purposes in accordance with the phased enforcement schedule and existing agency policies.”
“Although this is great news for Oklahomans, this is only a temporary fix,” said Fallin. “While there will be no restrictions on individuals using Oklahoma licenses to fly or access federal buildings through June, legislation must be approved this session to make this permanent. I will continue to work with legislators, the state Department of Public Safety, Oklahoma’s congressional delegation and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to ensure a permanent solution is passed into law before this extension expires in June.”
Identical letters sent to Fallin and Senate President Pro Tempore Mike Schulz and House Speaker Charles McCall state that DHS “recognizes Oklahoma’s efforts in enhancing the security of its driver’s licenses and identification cards” and granted the extension “indicating the plans of your administration and state legislative leaders to move forward on a legislative solution and their expectation that a vote will occur in the 2017 legislative session. This extension is intended to provide Oklahoma with the opportunity to take any necessary steps needed to meet all the requirements of the REAL ID Act and implementing regulation.”
“I’m pleased Oklahoma has been granted an extension by the Department of Homeland Security,” Schulz said. “DHS recognized Oklahoma’s sincere efforts to resolve issues in complying with the federal REAL ID law. This is an important issue for the thousands of Oklahomans whose livelihoods depend upon access to federal buildings and military installations, and it is an issue of convenience in regards to airline travel. There’s still more work to do to solve this issue permanently, but addressing REAL ID compliance will remain a high priority when the Legislature convenes in a few weeks.”
McCall said: “I am very pleased that the federal government is giving us additional time to develop a legislative solution to this issue. This extension will allow our citizens to continue to interact with our federal entities without interruption. House Republicans are committed to a solution that will bring Oklahoma into compliance with the Real ID Act while also protecting the privacy and liberty of our citizens.”
Fallin, Schulz and McCall wrote a letter last month to DHS requesting the extension.
Congress passed the REAL ID Act in 2005 to make driver's licenses harder to forge. Oklahoma legislators in 2007 passed a bill forbidding the state from meeting provisions of the act.