Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf signed the Pennsylvania REAL ID Compliance Act on Friday.
State lawmakers on Wednesday voted overwhelmingly for the bill, which is designed to comply with federal identification standards for people who want to fly or enter federal facilities.
Pennsylvania was one of a few states to push back against REAL ID compliance, saying it was unnecessarily costly. However, without REAL IDs, Pennsylvanians would no be able to use their driver’s licenses to board airplanes starting in January.
The measure gives residents the option to obtain a driver’s license or other ID that meets the rules of a 2005 federal law enacted in response to the Sept. 11 terror attacks. Residents would also be allowed to get a noncompliant, traditional driver’s license or ID.
It will take more than a year to implement the IDs, and the governor’s office expects them to be available in 2019. In the meantime, the governor is hoping to get a federal waiver for Pennsylvania residents.
Without a REAL ID, people will need a passport or military ID card to enter federal facilities like courthouses or military bases, or to board airplanes.
The cost of the ID is estimated at about $11 more than regular license fees.
Rep. Frank Ryan, R-Lebanon, called the legislation “a reasonable option for us to get around an unnecessary federal regulation.”
The bill overturns a 2012 state law that had prevented the state from complying based on concerns about cost, constitutionality, and government intrusiveness.
State Sen. Kim Ward said, “I am thankful to the governor and the legislature for working with me to move the Commonwealth towards compliance with the federal REAL ID Act. … The restrictions our constituents are facing if we continue to not comply with the federal government are truly burdensome. I am hopeful the U.S. Department of Homeland Security will view what we have done in Senate Bill 133 favorably and no Pennsylvanian needs a passport to get into a federal building or on a military base or to fly just within the United States.”
The new legislation aims to “protect the public, not look over our shoulders, not put us in a big database that’s been talked about,” said Rep. Ed Neilson, D-Philadelphia.