Neilson: Seeking a REAL ID extension is a good start, legislative fix still needed

HARRISBURG, Jan. 18 – State Rep. Ed Neilson, D-Phila., today applauded Gov. Tom Wolf and legislative leaders in the House and Senate for seeking an extension to give the state time to comply with the federal REAL ID requirements, while reminding them that a legislative fix is needed to address the federal government’s concerns.

In a letter sent last week, addressed to the Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Charles Johnson, Wolf and legislative leaders in both chambers requested an extension to give the commonwealth time to resolve compliance issues.

“Repercussions from our state’s noncompliance with these security standards will soon be interfering with the lives of Pennsylvanians and it will only get worse,” Neilson said. “We need to fix this and we need to fix this now. The only way to do that is by repealing the noncompliance legislation the General Assembly passed in 2012.”       

Neilson today introduced H.B. 150, which would repeal the REAL ID Nonparticipation Act. Identical legislation also is in the process of being introduced in the Senate by Sen. Kim Ward.

“The General Assembly has a bad habit of waiting until the last possible moment to address obvious issues staring us down from the not-too-distant future. While an extension will certainly help as we look to resolve this mess, a legislative fix is needed,” Neilson said. “I am glad Senator Ward is also focused on resolving the underlying noncompliance issue. The safety and security of our citizens is not a partisan issue; together I am optimistic that we can resolve this situation." 

Pennsylvania driver’s licenses and identification cards will soon no longer be accepted to gain entry at semi-restricted federal buildings, nuclear power plants and military bases due to noncompliance with the enhanced security standards set out by the federal law, which was passed in 2005 based on recommendations from the 9/11 Commission.

According to a report from the non-partisan crime prevention education charity Keeping IDentities Safe, by the end of the month there will be 257 federal buildings in the commonwealth that may be subjected to REAL ID enforcement.