UPDATE: Gov. Walker signs REAL ID bill into law
Governor Bill Walker on Friday signed into a law legislation that will allow Alaska to begin the process of issuing driver’s licenses and state IDs that are compliant with federal regulations.
The new law will give Alaskans the option to obtain licenses that are compliant with the Real ID Act of 2005, a federal law that established new standards over state-issued ID cards. After June 6 of this year, the Real ID-compliant licenses will be necessary to enter military bases and get through TSA checkpoints. However, they will not be mandatory in the State of Alaska.
In a Friday press release, Governor Walker thanked the House and the Senate for passing the legislation earlier in the day.
“Alaskans no longer have to wonder if their travel plans or ability to work will be in jeopardy,” Governor Walker wrote in a press release. “This legislation balances compliance with federal law with the privacy concerns that some have noted by giving Alaskans the choice of having a Real ID-compliant license.”
The move comes after state lawmakers in 2008 passed legislation blocking the use of funds to make Alaska ID cards and driver’s licenses compliant with the Real ID act, citing concerns with privacy and federal overreach. Since then the Department of Homeland Security has granted a series of waivers for Alaska, but last year announced that the deadline would not be extended further than June 6, 2017.
According to the governor’s office, the new law also, “seeks to improve communication and interactions between police officers and those with non-apparent disabilities.”
“HB 16 allows Alaskans to designate on a driver’s license or identification card that the carrier has a medically verified disability. This designation option will be available in late August,” the governor said. “The law also requires training for police and village safety officers to recognize disabilities, and instructs officers on appropriate conduct when engaging with those with disabilities.”
The Alaska Legislature has passed a bill aimed at bringing the state into compliance with national proof-of-identity standards.
The House gave final approval Wednesday to legislation that allows the state to issue REAL ID-compliant licenses.
Gov. Bill Walker intends to sign it. The deadline for his signature is on Friday, May 19. DMV officials say a federally-compliant ID will cost $20.
In 2008, Alaska passed a law barring state agencies from spending money to help implement REAL ID. Some of the same concerns about privacy and federal overreach were raised during this session's debate.
The House even passed a resolution urging the federal repeal of REAL ID.
The state has gotten compliance extensions.
But state officials said if lawmakers didn't pass REAL ID legislation, Alaska risked having driver's licenses rejected at military bases once the current extension expires June 6, and for air travel requiring federal screening in January.