State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Katie Meyer covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.

PA to obey federal ID law, despite previous privacy concerns

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