New data released today shows that Pennsylvanians who travel once per year could spend nearly $1 billion to acquire passports by the end of 2018 due to the state’s non-compliance with Federal REAL ID security requirements.
“These are very concerning numbers,” said Debra Bowman, executive director at the Aviation Council of Pennsylvania. “If Pennsylvania does not act quickly, businesses, families and residents in every corner of the state are going to be severely impacted. Most of us rely on driver’s licenses to serve as our main form of identification. Not being able to use them when we fly is going to be extremely problematic.”
Analysis from Keeping IDentities Safe, a non-partisan, not-for-profit Washington DC crime prevention group, estimates that 5.8 million unique Pennsylvania residents will use air travel once during 2018. With state-issued driver’s licenses currently non-compliant with Federal security standards, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will no longer accept them as valid forms of identification beginning January 22, 2018. That will force those once per year travelers to spend a projected $406 - $966 million to acquire passports by the end of 2018.
“Nearly 87% of American Airlines’ customers travel once per year,” said Rhett Workman, managing director of government & airport affairs at American Airlines, which maintains the largest airline presence in the Commonwealth with more than 10,000 statewide employees and over 450 daily flights across eight airports. “These individuals rely on our airline and the state’s airports to reach business meetings, weddings, funerals, vacations and more. Since many of them travel so infrequently, forcing them to acquire another form of identification prior to traveling by air adds unnecessary and avoidable burden to their experience. The result will mean either missing important and often personal life events, or seeking alternative, less efficient forms of transportation. In either scenario, Pennsylvanians of all types are being harmed.”
According to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the REAL ID Act was passed by Congress in 2005 to enact the 9/11 Commission’s recommendation that the Federal Government “set standards for the issuance of sources of identification, such as driver's licenses.” The Act directed DHS to establish minimum security standards for state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards through regulation (published January, 2008). Federal agencies are now prohibited from accepting, as identification for official purposes, driver’s licenses and identification cards from states that do not meet those standards or have a formal time extension to meet the standards.
DHS began phasing in REAL ID enforcement in 2015 and has set January 22, 2018 enforcement at the nation’s airports. States not fully compliant must be granted a time extension to comply by DHS or their residents must present alternative identification to driver’s licenses. Pennsylvania has been granted a limited extension through June 6, 2017, meaning driver’s licenses and identification cards can continue to be used at military bases, nuclear facilities and other federal sites until then. After that date, Pennsylvania driver’s licenses will no longer be accepted and on January 22, 2018, they will no longer by accepted by TSA at airports.
“Pennsylvania is now among a handful of states that are choosing not to comply,” said Brian Zimmer, president of Keeping IDentities Safe. “It is by far the biggest of those states and will thus feel the most significant impact. Eight states facing the same deadline include Oklahoma, Minnesota, Washington state, Maine, Kentucky, Missouri, South Carolina, and Montana. The Federal government has made it clear that REAL ID is not going away, and the new administration has ramped up its travel security efforts. So in short, the clock is ticking.”
In 2012 the Pennsylvania General Assembly passed Act 38, which prevents the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDot) from conforming to Federal REAL ID standards. To avoid the projected burdens to residents, the state legislature must repeal Act 38 and pass enabling legislation to bring driver’s licenses into compliance before the June 6, 2017 deadline. House Bill 150 and Senate Bill 133 would accomplish both goals and are currently before legislators in each respective chamber; however neither is currently scheduled for consideration.
“It’s time for Pennsylvania to join the dozens of others who have easily and seamlessly enhanced the security of their driver’s licenses,” Bowman said. “We’ve known this was coming for a long time. Pennsylvanians cannot afford to wait any longer for their legislators to act.”
Recent numbers from the U.S Department of Transportation show that 27,699,575 passengers flew from Pennsylvania’s 15 passenger airports between October 2015 and September 2016. Among them, 58% originated from Pennsylvania airports.
To view Keeping IDentities Safe’s full report, visit http://bit.ly/2mKD0Wr. For more information about Keeping IDentities Safe and REAL ID compliance nationwide, visit http://www.idsecuritynow.org/.