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Lawmakers Send Real ID Bill To Wolf, Who Plans To Sign It

Ted S. Warren
A sign at the federal courthouse in Tacoma, Wash., informs visitors of the federal government's REAL ID act, which requires state-issued driver's licences and ID cards to have new security enhancements that comply with legal U.S. residency standards.

Pennsylvania lawmakers on Wednesday voted overwhelmingly for a bill designed to comply with federal identification standards for people who want to fly or enter federal facilities.

The House passed the Real ID bill 190-1, and Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf said he will sign it.

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.

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.

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.

The legislator who cast the lone "no" vote in the House, Republican Rep. Jim Marshall of Beaver County, said providing two types of ID and driver's licenses will be confusing, and he feels the program is a federal overreach.

"To get a Pennsylvania driver's license, you have to prove residency first, which I completely support and agree, and I just think that that alone should be acceptable to the federal government," Marshall said.

There's a June 6 deadline to become compliant for entry into federal facilities. The commercial airliner standards take effect next year.

Wolf released a statement indicating the state Department of Transportation will begin working with the federal government to complete the changes. He said the goal was to make them consumer friendly and affordable.

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