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Alaska House, Senate agree to comply with Real ID Act, but pass different bills

By Liz Raines 3:17 PM May 15, 2017
JUNEAU –

The Alaska House and Senate have both agreed to comply with the federal Real ID Act, passed by Congress in 2005, but the two legislative bodies passed different bills to do so.

On Monday, the Senate approved provisions from Gov. Walker’s Real ID legislation with a vote of 14 to 5. But its fate was tied to House Bill 16 by Rep. Steve Thompson (R-Fairbanks).

His measure requires law enforcement to undergo training to recognize people with disabilities and allows the Division of Motor Vehicles to provide a voluntary designation on an ID card or driver’s license indicating a person has a disability.

On Saturday, the House passed the governor’s House Bill 74, which allows Alaskans the option to obtain a Real ID-compliant state driver’s license or keep a traditional license.

But with a constitutional deadline looming to finish work by Wednesday, House members also bundled it with another measure to create a special ID designation for Lao and Hmong veterans – something that is not in the bill approved by the Senate.

Alaska is one of eight states that must implement legislation to comply with the federal Real ID Act by June 6, or, starting June 7, residents will need a passport or other Real ID-compliant identification to access military bases.

The Real ID Act is designed to create minimum security standards for all state-issued ID cards nationwide by requiring states to use documents such as birth certificates and passports. But lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, and both legislative bodies, have expressed skepticism about the security of data collected by a private company.

At this point, it is unclear which bill, HB 16 or HB 74, will be sent to the governor for signature.

According to the Alaska Constitution, lawmakers must adjourn Wednesday, unless each body can obtain a two-thirds vote to continue work for up to ten days. Otherwise, the governor may call the legislature into a special session that may last up to 30 days.

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