Neilson disappointed in vote on Real ID bill

Amended bill not sufficient to comply with federal law

HARRISBURG, May 22 – State Rep. Ed Neilson, D-Phila., said today he is disappointed in the 140-54 vote in the House of Representatives on a bill originally meant to put Pennsylvania in compliance with the Real ID Act by the June 6 deadline that was granted by the Department of Homeland Security.  

Senate Bill 133 was amended earlier this month by the House State Government Committee and would create a two-tiered system, which would issue residents a standard-use driver’s license/photo ID card unless they request a Real ID-compliant card and pay the additional, and yet undetermined, fee. The legislation as written would also force those seeking a Real ID-compliant card to cover the cost of the enhanced security efforts.  

Neilson said the bill does nothing to move Pennsylvania into full compliance.

“This bill in its current form creates even more potential hurdles in meeting the June 6 deadline,” Neilson said. “Governor Wolf and his administration had indicated that this bill will not do enough to ensure Pennsylvania is up to par with federal law and I fully agree with him. It’s unfortunate that the bill did not come to the House as it was written.”

Neilson said he has been a strong advocate for repealing the Real ID Act. He sponsored legislation last session and H.B. 150 this session that would put Pennsylvania in compliance with the federal law.

“Repercussions from the noncompliance legislation would potentially interfere with the lives of Pennsylvanians if we don’t meet this deadline or receive another extension from the federal government,” Neilson said. “Pennsylvanians will not be able to enter 257 federal buildings, nuclear plants and military bases throughout the state, or countless number of similar facilities across the country.

“What’s worse is by January 2018, Pennsylvanians would need to obtain a passport just to fly commercially, even if it’s from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh. Airlines have estimated that getting those passports would unnecessarily cost Pennsylvanians nearly $1 billion if the commonwealth does not comply,” Neilson said.

Neilson noted the House and the Senate each have five session days left before the June 6 deadline.