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Reality Check w/ John Tracy: Got a passport? Alaska’s Real ID extensions are about to expire.

By John Tracy 6:23 PM May 4, 2017

You’ve no doubt heard a lot of the debate over Real ID, but chances are you haven’t thought that much about how it could affect you.

Simply put, the real ID Act was passed by Congress in 2005. It was part of the recommendations of the 911 Commission.

The intent was to establish uniform security standards for state driver’s licenses and I.D cards.

Half the states have complied.

Alaska is one of 21 states that have been given extensions, and those extensions are almost up.

If Alaska has not adopted Real ID by June 6, civilians trying to enter bases like Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson or Eielson Air Force Base with an Alaska drivers license will be turned away.

And come January 18, 2018, the feds say you’ll also need a passport to fly out of state.

Real ID has brought together critics from both sides of the aisle in Juneau.

For some, it’s a privacy issue. They are concerned, legitimately, about Alaskan’s personal information being compromised.

Others consider it another example of federal overreach.

The governor is sponsoring legislation that would let Alaskans have it both ways — get a driver’s license that’s only good in Alaska, or pay $5 extra to get a Real ID driver’s license that will give you access to the base, and your seat in first class or coach.

The idea seems reasonable, but lawmakers still aren’t on board.

Democrat Chris Tuck argues that the Pentagon, and not Homeland Security, determines who gets on base. And he’s free to make that argument at the gate, but he won’t get past it because JBER has made it clear it will enforce Real ID in June.

Republican Delena Johnson has sponsored a resolution calling on Congress to repeal the Real ID Act entirely. That is likely to be as successful as arguing with a guard at the gates of JBER.

The fact is, the feds have no real interest in our lawmakers opinions on Real ID.

And their failure to act puts Alaskans at risk, including civilian workers whose jobs are on base.

If you have a passport, no problem.

If you need a passport, the requirements are the same for getting a Real ID drivers license, though it will cost you $130 instead of $5.

If you already have a passport, you can apply for a passport card. It will cost you $30.

If you have neither, and are stopped at the gate of JBER this summer, or security at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport next January, you can just tell them the Alaska Legislature says you don’t need Real ID, and enjoy spring break in Spenard.

John’s opinions are his own, and not necessarily those of Denali Media or its employees.

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