Governor Wolf, Bipartisan Leaders Announce Pennsylvania REAL ID Extension

January 19, 2017

Harrisburg, PA – Pennsylvania has been granted an extension until June 5, 2017 from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to fix state law to allow for federal REAL ID compliance after Governor Tom Wolf and bipartisan leaders including Senators Scarnati, Corman, and Costa, and Representatives Turzai, Reed, and Dermody, wrote to DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson earlier this month.

The extension will allow the Wolf administration, including the Pa. Department of Transportation (PennDOT), to work with the General Assembly to resolve Pennsylvania’s non-compliance during the current legislative session. DHS told state leaders that additional extensions may be granted, as necessary, once the commonwealth can commit to meeting all REAL ID requirements.

“I thank the leaders in both chambers for making this commitment to fix state law to allow for us to come into compliance so that no Pennsylvanians, from delivery drivers to air travelers, will be inconvenienced by the current provisions barring PennDOT from completing certain requirements,” Governor Wolf said. “My administration will continue to work with the General Assembly and the federal government to come into compliance and ensure we can resolve this in an efficient and timely manner before residents face any additional challenges.”

This extension means that on January 30th of this year, Pennsylvanians will no longer face immediate access issues when entering federal facilities. The letter from Pennsylvania leaders to Sec. Johnson can be downloaded here (see this file as a PDF), along with the federal government’s response here (see this file as a PDF).

“We are appreciative that DHS has provided an extension in order to preserve the ability of all Pennsylvania residents to have access to federal buildings,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati and Majority Leader Jake Corman. “This added time allows us to work together to ensure the Commonwealth becomes compliant in a way that is easy for residents and cost-effective.”

“Pennsylvania has done much to make our licenses secure, the federal REAL ID law mandates more,” said Speaker of the House Mike Turzai and House Majority Leader Dave Reed. “While many legislators have concerns about REAL ID, we will work with the Senate, Wolf Administration and our Congressional delegation to ensure compliance in a reasonable and cost-effective manner to make sure Pennsylvanians have continued access to federal buildings and air travel.”

“Without this action the freedom and mobility of millions of Pennsylvanians would be at risk,” said House Democratic Leader Frank Dermody. “We are working to fix this through a bipartisan effort of the legislature in partnership with the governor.”

“I couldn’t be more pleased with the extension granted today by DHS,” State Senator Jay Costa said.  Moving in this direction was the right thing to do, and gives us time to assure that we’re making the changes necessary to ensure the privacy of personal information is protected while allowing for compliance with current law.  I look forward to a swift resolution to the REAL ID issue on behalf of all Pennsylvanians, who more than anything, deserve the right to travel and visit federal facilities freely and without complication.”

The Wolf administration and legislative leaders have been communicating about how to resolve Pennsylvania’s non-compliance due to Act 38 of 2012 and have looked at ways in which Pennsylvania can become compliant in the most cost-effective and straightforward way possible.

“We at PennDOT are grateful to Governor Wolf and the leaders of the General Assembly for their bipartisan cooperation that opened the door to this needed extension,” PennDOT Secretary Leslie Richards said. “It delivers relief to our citizens who need access to federal facilities. We also are gratified that the Department of Homeland Security continues to acknowledge the security advances PennDOT has delivered in its driver license.”

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