Alaska may see ID choice

  • By KAT SORENSEN
  • Wednesday, May 10, 2017 9:16pm
  • News

The daily impact to Kenai Peninsula Borough residents of Alaska’s non-compliance to the federal Real ID law may be small, but a bill that advanced through the House Finance Committee on Tuesday would give Alaskans the choice to carry compliant identification.

House Bill 74, from Gov. Bill Walker, would allow Alaskans to choose between having a driver’s license or identification card that is Real ID compliant or not.

Currently, the state is operating under a compliance extension from the Department of Homeland Security which allows holders of Alaska driver’s licenses and ID cards to continue to use their identification to access military bases and other federal facilities until June 6, 2017.

If Alaska is not Real ID compliant by that date, Alaskans will be required to present a passport or other federally issued ID to access facilities such as Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage, according to Alaska’s Division of Motor Vehicles.

“I can’t conceive where it would be a big problem, or a problem at all, down in the borough,” said Larry Persily, chief of staff to Borough Mayor Mike Navarre. “Anchorage is where people are going to see it, to travel or if they have business on base.”

On Jan. 22, 2018, if the state is still not compliant, airline passengers going through federal security screenings will need to show an alternative form of acceptable ID for domestic air travel.

“There’s certainly federal offices, like the (Kenai Wildlife Refuge), but you don’t need an ID to go into those those and get information. … Residents are going to see it when they go through (Transportation Security Administration) at Anchorage, not Homer or Kenai Airports,” Persily said.

Currently, the DMV charges $20 for a non-commercial driver’s license and $15 for a state identification card.

A person who applies for a driver’s license that is federally compliant will have to pay a $20 fee, according to the bill.

The bill would require that the applicant be made aware of their options for drivers’ licenses at the time of issuance.

In 2008, the Alaska Legislature passed a law prohibiting the use of state funds for Real ID implementation. HB 74 would repeal this section of the statute.

”Since the implementation of the REAL ID Act began earlier this year, we have worked with federal officials to extend compliance of the law in Alaska. That was only a stopgap measure, and it is critical that we establish a permanent solution to this problem,” Walker said in a press release earlier this year. “Thousands of Alaskans who work in federal facilities and on military bases will be impacted when these rules are finally enforced. The legislation I have introduced will address that problem while accommodating those who do not wish to have a Real ID license.”

In the House’s fiscal note on the bill, the initial cost to the DMV to produce Real ID compliant IDs would be $1.5 million which includes equipment and integration.

The estimated cost of producing a Real ID license or ID card is $5 more than the $1.92 it costs to produce Alaska’s current ID cards. The DMV anticipates that 50 percent of Alaskans will opt for a Real ID license or ID card, according to the fiscal note, which the House estimates will cost an additional $500,000 the during Fiscal Year 2019 and 2020.

According to the DMV, even after the state approves the production of Real ID cards, it will take the division another year before they are able to make them.

Reach Kat Sorensen at kat.sorensen@peninsulaclarion.com.

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