JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri lawmakers are looking at a measure to bring the state in compliance with federal requirements for driver licenses and ID cards.
If the state fails to meet those standards, known as the Real ID Act, residents will not be able to board commercial aircraft in January of next year.
Forty-three states currently comply with the requirements, which have been in place since 2005 and were imposed in response to the 2001 terrorist attack.
The federal government has delayed enforcement until 2018.
Missouri currently doesn’t satisfy 22 benchmarks for compliance, with the biggest roadblock being the state’s policy not to scan and retain the documents of license applicants.
Among the biggest critics of the federal requirements is Republican Senator Will Kraus. He authored legislation which did away with Missouri’s own policy to scan and retain the documents.
“They were putting it into a database,” said Kraus.
“We found that. We filed a bill. We passed a bill. The governor, Nixon, signed the bill into law saying ‘No, Department of Revenue you do not have the authority to keep our private documents in a database’. In fact, they had to purge their databases because of the legislation we passed. Now, this bill basically will undue that because of the federal government’s mandate.”
The documents scanned and retained would be an existing driver’s license, a Social Security card, birth certificate or passport.
Kraus thinks doing so would be a breach of privacy. At a Senate committee hearing Thursday, he was the only lawmaker expressing concerns over the federal requirements.
Two of his Republican senate colleagues, Ryan Silvey of Kansas City and Caleb Rowden of Columbia, introduced legislation in the committee to bring the state into compliance.
Silvey mentioned the only way around the ban would be to have a federally issued ID, such as a passport.
“I think that that would be a ridiculous burden to put on our public, to make them all go get passports, which frankly would mean that they would have to give up the information that we’re trying to protect them from giving up,” said Silvey.” And also it would cost them a lot of money.”
No one testified against the proposal at the committee hearing. Both major airports in Kansas City and St. Louis had representatives who spoke out in favor of it.
Lambert-St. Louis International Airport Director Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge raised concerns that non-compliance will suppress the robust grow of airline traffic there.
“This is one of those things that makes them take a step back and think ‘Do we want to continue to grow at an airport that’s not compliant with federal regulations'” said Hamm-Niebruegge.
Southwest, which is the dominant carrier at Lambert with 50 percent of its passengers, has been expanding flights service there. Hamm-Niebruegge said passenger traffic grew by more than 1.2 million people in 2016.
Justin Meyer with the Kansas City Aviation Department said non-compliance would hurt growth trends at Kansas City International Airport.
A range of other groups testified in favor of the legislation, including the Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, Missouri Trucking Association, and Associated General Contractors.
Because of the state’s current non-compliance, people with Missouri ID’s have also been prohibited from entering military installations since late 2015. The Senate committee is expected to vote on federal requirements compliance measure next week.