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Missouri Republicans battle themselves over Real ID requirement measures

Updated 2:30 p.m. Feb. 23 — Both chambers of the Missouri General Assembly are working on versions of a bill this week that will bring the state into compliance with a federal law meant to make IDs consistent across the country.

Missouri is one of five states that hasn’t complied with the federal Real ID Act of 2005, the others being Illinois, Minnesota, New Mexico and Washington state.

Missouri has until Jan. 22, 2018, to adhere to the regulations, otherwise state residents will need to use a passport in order to board planes or enter federal facilities.

Opponents, who are mainly Republicans, claim the law interferes with Missouri residents’ right to privacy. Supporters disagree, claiming the bill gives citizens the right to choose whether or not they want to comply instead of forcing them to use a passport.

The sponsors of both bills — Rep. Kevin Corlew and Sen. Ryan Silvey — are both Kansas City Republicans. And Republican U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt was the original co-sponsor of the 2005 Federal ID Act.

“I think it’s interesting that those on the other side of this issue are claiming to be protectors of freedom,” Silvey said. “The way they’re going about it is by limiting the choices of regular Missourians so I think that’s a little bit of cognitive dissonance.”

The Senate’s Real ID bill would allow a Missouri resident to choose between a compliant or noncompliant ID. The House did much the same with their bill, meaning one could choose to just use a passport or opt for the federal ID.

In 2009, former Gov. Jay Nixon signed into law a bill that would prevent Missouri citizens from having to adhere to federal ID regulations, and dozens of other states followed suit.

Sen. Caleb Rowland, R-Boone County, says states had hoped that the federal government would change the regulations with the idea that “in a group, you’re stronger together.” But he thinks that argument is no longer relative given that there is a new president and 45 states currently adhere to the law.

There are 10 Republican senators had planned to filibuster Wednesday, going as far as to send a letter to the attorney general in the hopes that he would join their cause. But Silvey eventually tabled the bill Wednesday, delaying its discussion — possibly indefinitely. 

While the House version of the bill was scheduled for final approval Thursday, the chamber didn't vote on it. Speaker of the House Todd Richardson, R-Poplar Bluff, told reporters that the bill is not in jeopardy and urged the public not to “read too much into the fact that we didn’t take it up today.” 

Since 2005, no lawsuits have been filed against the Federal ID Act.

Follow Krissy Lane on Twitter: @krissyrlane

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Krissy Lane