Senator Sater’s Capitol Report, for the Week of Sept. 10: Real ID Grace Period Extended

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Over the past few weeks, I’ve received calls from constituents who may have heard a news story or read an article and are concerned they may not be able to get on a plane or go to a military base, starting in October. To answer any questions that may be out there and to calm any concerns, I thought I’d go over the history of REAL ID and let you know where Missouri stands right now with it.

Back in 2005, in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Congress passed the REAL ID Act. Since many of the perpetrators of 9/11 used fraudulently obtained IDs to board planes, the goal of that federal legislation was to set minimum standards for driver’s licenses and state IDs. Specifically, there were requirements to verify applicants are in the country legally and ensure the authenticity of the person. Being the Show-Me State and rightfully concerned about privacy and federal overreach, Missouri rejected REAL ID back in 2009. I voted for that bill and remained skeptical of whether the stated benefits of REAL ID justified expanded federal authority.

Last year, because we had not passed legislation complying with REAL ID, we faced a looming deadline in which the federal government would no longer allow Missourians to use their state driver’s licenses to get on planes or access federal buildings and military bases. Faced with a serious problem, the General Assembly passed legislation that gives Missourians the option of obtaining a REAL ID-compliant state ID or to keep their current non-compliant state ID. This solution gives folks with privacy concerns an option, while at the same time, making sure those who want to get on a plane or go to a federal facility can. After passing this law last year, but not being able to fully implement it yet, we received a grace period from the Department of Homeland Security through October. That deadline was fast approaching, and then late last week, the state received an extended grace period through January 2019. That means, at least through early next year, you can continue to use your Missouri driver’s license at airport security and at federal buildings and bases. The Missouri Department of Revenue hopes to begin issuing REAL ID-compliant licenses by March of next year, so another extension may be necessary.

Many may have also read or heard about the Missouri Legislature going into a special session this week. The governor called this session a few weeks ago to address a pair of legislative issues: STEM education and drug treatment courts. The “STEM” bill would allow Missouri high school students to count computer science courses as graduation credits and encourage more schools around the state to train teachers and offer these courses. As our economy continues to rely more and more on technology, we need employees with the skills to work on and develop new technology in the future.

Also on tap is legislation that would expand Missouri’s drug treatment courts, which is an alternative sentencing tool for individuals facing drug addiction. The bill would make it easier for different court circuits to transfer cases, and it would set up guidelines for jurisdictions with less experience in the alternative sentencing of treatment courts. Drug courts allows non-violent offenders a chance to avoid traditional prosecution if they receive substance abuse treatment and counseling. The results delivered by drug courts are unmistakable. Drug courts reduce felony conviction recidivism and those who graduate have significantly lower rates of re-arrest and police contact. Drug courts save the state money and give offenders, who take responsibility, the chance to change their lives.

As always, I welcome your ideas, questions and concerns. You may contact me at the State Capitol as follows: (573) 751-1480, or by writing to Sen. David Sater, Missouri State Capitol, Room 416, Jefferson City, MO 65101.

God bless and thank you for the opportunity to work for you in the Missouri Senate.