Pennsylvania is currently facing down a deadline, one that should never have been an issue in the first place, with consequences that could potentially impact thousands of residents in this commonwealth.
The Department of Homeland Security granted Pennsylvania an extension through June 6 to give the state time to comply with the federal REAL ID Act of 2005, which Congress passed after the 2001 terror attacks.
If Harrisburg doesn’t act by June 6, Pennsylvania driver’s licenses and ID cards will not be accepted at up to 257 federal buildings, nuclear power plants and military bases throughout the state, not to mention at countless of other similar sites throughout the country.
By January 2018, every Pennsylvanian will need a passport to fly commercially, even from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh.
The extension granted to the commonwealth in January from the Department of Homeland Security was welcomed news, as it gave legislators time to resolve the underlying noncompliance issue.
However, in typical Harrisburg fashion, the General Assembly has dragged its feet and now Pennsylvania faces a quickly ticking clock before this nightmare starts to affect our residents.
Sen. Kim Ward and I have already introduced legislation, H.B. 150 and S.B. 133, which would put the state on the path to addressing this situation.
The bills, which are currently awaiting consideration from the House Transportation Committee and the House State Government Committee, respectfully, are the first steps to resolving this mess.
But they must be passed and signed into law before the state Transportation Department can start to work toward meeting the enhanced security standards.
Right now, the General Assembly has seven session days until the deadline.
I urge all Pennsylvanians to call their elected officials to demand action on this important legislation to ensure that Pennsylvanian’s IDs will continue to be accepted and remain secure from fraud.
Ed Neilson represents the 174th Legislative District in the Pennsylvania House.