JEFFERSON CITY • Missouri’s failed fight with the federal government over post-Sept. 11, 2001, travel rules is over.
On Monday, Gov. Eric Greitens signed into law legislation bringing Missouri driver’s licenses and identification cards in line with Department of Homeland standards, paving the way for the IDs to be accepted at airports, military bases and other federal facilities.
Without the new law, Missouri travelers hoping to board planes beginning Jan. 22 would otherwise have to use passports.
“This measure ensures that Missourians will be able to use a driver’s license to fly or visit a military base,” said Greitens in a statement prior to signing the law at Whiteman Air Force Base.
The GOP-controlled Legislature had long resisted complying with the federal rules, arguing that it could put private personal information into a federal database.
Under the new law, approved by the House and Senate in the waning days of the spring legislative session, data retained from Missourians’ personal documents will be housed in a secure facility not connected to the commercial internet — to avoid hacking — and criminal penalties await anyone who misuses the information.
The measure will give residents an option of getting a license or ID that is federally compliant or one that is not. And, if the federal government repeals the REAL ID law, the measure will be voided.
Rep. Kevin Corlew, a Kansas City Republican who sponsored the legislation, said it had become clear the state would have to act before the January deadline hit.
“It was clear that Washington was not going to change it. And in the meantime, if we didn’t comply, the citizens would face the brunt of the problem,” Corlew said.
Sen. Will Kraus, R-Lee’s Summit, had pushed to keep the state out of the REAL ID program, arguing that it would create a database resulting in a larger, more intrusive federal government.
He said residents should still urge Congress to end the requirements.
“We must also remain steadfast in our efforts to push for the federal government to repeal the REAL ID Act,” Kraus said.
The changes will take up to two years to be implemented, but supporters say Missouri will qualify for a waiver from the federal government allowing people to continue using their current IDs until the new system is online.
“Now that we have a law passed we need to seek an extension from the Department of Homeland Security. We are confident we will be able to get that designation,” Corlew said.