Homeland Security officials have given Alaska an extension through June 6, 2017 to comply with the REAL ID Act.
Gov. Bill Walker had requested the extension and informed the Department of Homeland Security that he intends to introduce legislation to remove barriers to the REAL ID Act in January. For the duration of the extension, federal agencies may accept Alaska driver’s licenses and state-issued ID cards for official purposes.
Walker said he is pleased with the extension to compliance, but it is not a permanent solution.
“Thousands of Alaskans who work in federal facilities and on our military bases will be impacted when these rules are finally enforced,” he said. “It is absolutely critical that the Legislature take up this important issue and make the necessary changes to state statute this year.”
In 2008 the Legislature passed a law prohibiting use of state funds to implement the REAL ID Act. While state motor vehicles officials have implemented best practices to prevent drive’s license fraud and qualify the Alaska Division of Motor Vehicles for compliance extensions, federal officials have warned this will not continue in the future. DHS said further extension requests might be denied if the Legislature does not act on this legislation in the upcoming session.
Walker’s proposed legislation would allow the DMV to issue both REAL ID Act compliant and noncompliant identification cards and driver’s licenses — giving Alaskans a choice.
If the state is not REAL ID Act compliant by June 5, 2017, Alaskans will be required to present a passport or other federally issued ID to get on to military bases or other federal facilities. If Alaska is not compliant with the Act by Jan. 22, 2018, all residents will have to present a passport or alternative ID acceptable to the Transportation Security Administration to board a commercial flight.