Neilson: House votes to put Pa. on track to federal Real ID law compliance

HARRISBURG, May 24 – State Rep. Ed Neilson, D-Phila., said the House today approved compromise legislation that moves Pennsylvania toward compliance with federal Real ID regulations.

Neilson said today’s passage of S.B. 133 was the first of many steps that need to be taken to secure Pennsylvanians’ identity documents and before the state can issue the Real ID-compliant IDs.

“It is important to remember that the federal Real ID law was passed by Congress after the 9/11 terrorist attacks to ensure that every state was issuing IDs that were secure from counterfeit and fraud,” Neilson said. “In the past 16 years, we have done a lot to make this country a safer place, but we have done very little to secure our identity documents. This is the first step to ensuring all identity documents issued by Pennsylvania are safe, but only the first step of many.”  

Senate Bill 133 repeals the 2012 state law and requires the Department of Transportation and other agencies to comply with the 2005 Real ID Act. PennDOT will be required to provide eligible applicants the option of receiving a standard driver license or photo identification card, or one that is Real ID compliant. More details about PennDOT's implementation of the program will be available in the future. 

“Before anyone pats themselves on the back for beating the June 6 deadline, we need to realize that there is no guarantee the Department of Homeland Security will grant Pennsylvania any further extension,” Neilson said. “In fact, Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly has in the past suggested that there will be no extension of the January deadline that would require airline passengers to present Real ID-compliant identification to get through airport security.

“I am glad to see the report on the cost and issuance of Real IDs is part of this legislation. This is especially important with the two-tiered system created by this bill so we can know how much this system will cost in the long run,” Neilson said.

Neilson added that Gov. Wolf said he will sign the bill.