Oregon has been ducking its Real ID obligation since 2009, and the jig is just about up. The state’s waiver from the federal law expires in early July. So by January 2018, Oregonians without Real ID-compliant identification will be unable to board commercial airplanes, enter federal buildings and the like. Without a change in Oregon’s driver’s license, Oregonians would need something like a passport.
The federal legislation adopting Real ID was approved by Congress in 2005 at the urging of the 911 commission; the state Legislature agreed to it in 2008 but rescinded its approval the following year. Under current law, Oregon can adopt Real ID only if the federal government pays for it.
One of the critical ways Oregon’s licenses fall short is a storage issue. The DMV needs to retain an image of the documentation you provide to comply with Real ID, according to state Rep. Mike Nearman, R-Independence.
Senate Bill 374 would bring the state into compliance, sort of. It is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate next week. The measure, sponsored by Sen. Bill Hansell, R-Athena, would rescind the law and create a two-tiered state driver license/identification system. At the top would be a Real ID-compliant document that would cost those who wanted it an additional $20 or so to cover storage and other fees associated with issuing it. Hansell believes about 30 percent of Oregonians would seek the Real ID cards.
The second tier would be the system in place. License seekers would have to provide identification that proved citizenship status and the like. The information is not stored, however, so the cost of the license would be unchanged.
If this sounds unduly complicated, it is. Oregonians who pay attention to such things will have no problem with getting a Real ID license before it’s needed. Some will be less well-prepared, however. You can imagine the scene at the airport if Mom, Dad and kids are denied the right to fly to Disneyland for a long-planned-for vacation. The problem would be avoided, however, if the state adopted a full Real ID requirement, rather than this partial one.
That’s not likely, unfortunately, at least for now. But we can hope that, having gone the semi-Real ID route for a year or so, lawmakers return to Salem and make the Real ID requirement applicable to all.