Oregon finally moving toward Real ID Act compliance

Gender-neutral licenses no issue-but deadlines are

Oregon driver licenses to comply with...

SALEM, Ore. - (Update: More from officials on gender-neutral license, background)

The Oregon House gave final approval Thursday to legislation that would finally put the state in compliance with the federal Real ID Act of 2005. But without a federal approval of an extension, trouble could still be afoot for air travelers and others.

Without adoption of the legislation, Oregonians were at risk of not being allowed to pass through Transportation Security Administration airport checkpoints. Lawmakers passed the bill in anticipation of a Monday deadline requiring compliance.

The Real ID Act came into play after 9/11 in order to better regulate who was able to receive a state driver's license.

The state aims to have the Real ID-compliant IDs ready by 2020, and is awaiting approval of an extension while they get IDs up to par.

That means if the state is not granted the extension, you would have to use your passport or other TSA-certified piece of identification to board a flight within the United States.

According to Oregon DMV spokesman David House, non-compliant IDs don't involve a fingerprint-based background check, which scares some when it comes to handing out IDs.

“Homeland Security has set some deadlines for compliance, and one of those deadlines is January 22, 2018," House said. "The airport security, the Transportation Security agency, they’ll start requiring ID Act-compliant cards to board domestic flights.”

Oregon has been slow to comply with the Real ID Act. Lawmakers in 2009 approved SB 536, which prohibited state agencies from using state funds to comply with the provisions of the federal law. With a July 10 deadline for individuals to have Real ID compliant IDs in order to access federal buildings and a looming TSA deadline related to air travel, lawmakers finally took action that would put Oregon in compliance with the law.

Oregon is close to being in compliance with real ID, but have to make some changes to the way the confirm citizenship and do background checks as well as change the physical id to make it harder to duplicate. 

Justine Whelan, the Department of Homeland Security assistant press secretary, said Oregon's new gender laws for driver's licenses also are not a problem under Real ID.

“Not an issue at all, so the requirement, the minimum security standard in this case is that gender must be identified," Whelan said. "However, it’s not up to the federal government to decide what the data field for that is.”

Oregon is one of 23 states that is in a grace period right now. Only two states, Minnesota and Missouri, are not in compliance with the federal Real ID laws.

SB 374 B authorizes the Oregon DMV to issue drivers’ licenses that meet the minimum standards required by the federal Real ID Act. The bill also allows Oregonians to obtain standard, non-Real ID compliant licenses at a lower cost per issuance.

According to a measure summary provided by legislative committee staff, Oregon “issues approximately 177,000 new drivers licenses annually, in addition to issuing renewals for about 335,000 licenses each year.”

SB 374 B passed the House on 56-1 vote. The bill now heads to the governor’s desk to be signed into law.

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