- Associated Press - Thursday, January 19, 2017

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Federal authorities have given Pennsylvania a few more months to comply with a 2005 federal law that requires people to prove they are legal U.S. residents in order for their driver’s licenses to be valid for federal purposes, Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration said Thursday.

The extension for compliance with the Real ID law means that, for now, Pennsylvania licenses will be sufficient proof of identification to get into federal facilities.

Wolf said the agreement would give state policymakers time to develop legislation to meet federal requirements. The state’s new deadline is June 6.

Real ID provisions require certain identification standards in order to enter federal facilities such as military bases and nuclear plants, but next year more widespread problems loom, as the heightened standards will be required for people boarding commercial airliners.

Wolf, a Democrat, issued a statement thanking legislative leaders “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.”

The federal law was enacted as a result of the Sept. 11 terror attacks carried out by hijackers who had obtained valid ID from various states. The federal ID standards were designed to help prevent terrorism and fraud.

A 2012 state law, the Real ID Nonparticipation Act, is keeping Pennsylvania from meeting the federal law’s requirements. It passed the state Senate unanimously and the House by a wide margin. Concerns with the act included cost, constitutionality questions and government intrusiveness.

An October letter from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to a PennDOT executive said the state’s driver’s licenses fell short on several grounds, including that they lacked a federally approved security marking. Other issues were that Pennsylvania does not necessarily require people to renew in person when there are material changes in personally identifiable information and it doesn’t bar people from having more than one Real ID compliant identification.

Republican majority leaders in the House and Senate said they were committed to working on the state’s Real ID law.

House Speaker Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny, and Majority Leader Dave Reed, R-Indiana, issued a statement saying many legislators have concerns about the federal law, but they aimed to “ensure compliance in a reasonable and cost-effective manner.”

A Wolf aide said the governor spoke twice recently with Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson to pursue the time extension. A letter to Wolf dated Wednesday from two Homeland Security officials said the limited extension was based, in part, on their understanding that a legislative fix was expected to be passed this year.

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This story has been corrected to show the deadline is June 6, not June 5.

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