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House of Representatives
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: February 9, 2017 03:08 PM
From: Representative John A. Lawrence
To: All House members
Subject: REAL ID Legislation

In the near future, I will introduce legislation to address the REAL ID situation facing the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. This legislation will create a two-tier system for ID issuance similar to that adopted in Arizona. Going forward, individuals may choose to obtain a standard ID or driver’s license, or for an additional cost, an ID or driver’s license that complies with the federal REAL ID mandate.


The US Congress passed the REAL ID Act of 2005 in an attempt to standardize the issuance of driver’s licenses across the United States. Groups from across the political spectrum, from the CATO Institute to the ACLU have objected to various provisions of REAL ID. Many states, including Pennsylvania, objected to this unfunded federal mandate by passing legislation resisting implementation.

Since 2005, the federal Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has repeatedly set deadlines for each state and territory to come into compliance with REAL ID. Recently, DHS set deadlines for Pennsylvania to adopt REAL ID, or risk having Pennsylvania driver’s licenses rejected as acceptable identification to board an airplane or enter a federal building.

In response, I will introduce legislation to create a two-tiered system for issuing driver’s licenses and state photo ID cards in the Commonwealth. This approach is patterned off of a similar system successfully established in Arizona. As a result of adopting this two-tiered system, DHS has deemed Arizona to be in compliance – and as a result, even non-REAL ID compliant Arizona driver’s licenses will be accepted for boarding an airplane and accessing a federal building until 2020.

Under this system, a Pennsylvania resident can choose to obtain a standard ID, or a REAL ID compliant ID. A standard ID (driver’s license) will be issued just as it is today, with no change. If a Pennsylvania resident chooses to obtain a REAL ID compliant ID, then they will need to provide additional documentation according to what is mandated under the federal REAL ID act. There will also be an additional charge to cover the associated costs.

Individuals could choose to obtain either a driver’s license, or for non-drivers, an identification card, and either could be issued in standard or REAL ID compliant form. Importantly, under my proposal, the state of Pennsylvania shall not compel any resident to obtain a REAL ID, or require a REAL for any purpose. Participation would be completely voluntary and at the complete discretion of each individual Pennsylvania resident.

I would appreciate your support of this balanced, responsible approach to resolve this issue. Your
co-sponsorship would be welcome.

Introduced as HB876