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SC gets another reprieve in implementing federal REAL ID

Fort Jackson main gate
Fort Jackson main gate tglantz@thestate.com

The Department of Homeland Security granted South Carolina another a 4 1/2 month extension for making changes to the state driver’s license required by the federal REAL ID Act of 2005.

So, for the time being, a South Carolina drivers license will be accepted for gaining access to a military facility like Fort Jackson or Shaw Air Force Base and other federal facilities. The restrictions are set to expand to include getting on an airplane in January 2018 if the state still has not made the required changes.

The reprieve was announced Thursday night by state Sen. Larry Grooms, chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee.

Congress passed the Real ID Act in reaction to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The terrorists who carried out those attacks used driver’s licenses issued in Florida and Virginia as identification to board airplanes that they crashed into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania.

The idea behind the law was that secure, modern identification should be consistent across the country, and it should be linked to the data the individual used to get the driver’s license.

The mandated changes have been resisted in South Carolina. In fact, a law was passed prohibiting Department of Motor Vehicle officials from complying with the Real ID requirements.

In announcing the extension, Grooms characterized the requirements as “Washington’s bureaucratic baloney,” and a misinterpretation of the 2005 law.

But state leaders have felt heat from military officials.

In a meeting with Lt. Gov. Henry McMaster in December, 2016, commanders of the state’s major military installations said the failure to comply with the federal requirements could cause them headaches beginning in January.

Col. Daniel Lasica, commander of the 20th Fighter Wing at Shaw, told McMaster the identification problems would affect everything from food deliveries to the base to access for major construction contractors.

With the pressure off, Grooms said he looks “forward to working with the new administration to continue our common sense approach that we use here in South Carolina. Mr.Trump’s presidency cannot come soon enough.”

A hearing is scheduled at 11 a.m. Wednesday, January 18, where the state’s DMV director, Kevin Shwedo, will brief Grooms’ committee about the extension.

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