State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Katie Meyer covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.
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PA to obey federal ID law, despite previous privacy concerns

Written by Katie Meyer, Capitol Bureau Chief | Jan 19, 2017 6:15 PM

If lawmakers hadn't agreed to obey federal guidelines, Pennsylvania licenses would no longer provide access to federal facilities come January 30. (Photo from WITF archives)

(Harrisburg) -- Pennsylvania has worked out a deal with the federal Department of Homeland Security to update its IDs to meet federal regulations--known as REAL ID.

The commonwealth's ID conflicts date back to 2012, when then-Governor Tom Corbett signed a law preventing federal compliance, calling REAL ID a disaster for privacy rights.

But now, the legislature's working to repeal that law.

Lawmakers were spurred into action by something of an ultimatum from the federal government; if Pennsylvania's IDs didn't meet standards by January 30th, its residents wouldn't be able to use them to access federal facilities.

After a letter from Governor Tom Wolf and legislative leaders, the DHS is giving the commonwealth at least a five-month extension to come up with a legislative fix.

Wolf spokesman JJ Abbott said the fix should be simple: repeal Corbett's non-compliance law.

"It was a bipartisan group of leaders who joined the governor in asking for the extension," Abbott noted. "We are hopeful to work with the legislature."

This is a sharp change from 2012.

At the time, the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania was a strong opponent of REAL ID--largely because it created a national ID database.

Following the passage of Act 38, ACLU spokesman Andy Hoover had said that "if it is ever implemented, that database will be a honeypot for identity thieves."

Now, Hoover said the ACLU is "assessing the current state of REAL ID enforcement" and hasn't taken a definitive stance.

Published in News, State House Sound Bites

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