OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. (March 22, 2017) – Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin (R) has signed a bill into law implementing the federal REAL ID Act in the state, overturning a decade-old law prohibiting participation in the national ID program.

House Bill 1845 (HB1845) was sponsored by six Republicans and one Democrat. It passed the state House in a 78-18 vote, with four abstaining. In the state Senate, it was approved 35-11. The bill was signed by Fallin on March 2.


President G.W. Bush signed REAL ID into law in 2005. It essentially co-opts the states into creating a national ID system. The federal government has no constitutional authority to mandate a national ID.

Under the law, all 50 states were supposed comply with the federal law by 2009. But, states rebelled against REAL ID for several reasons, including privacy concerns and the fact that Congress didn’t provide any funding for the mandates it expects states to implement.

In 2007, Oklahoma passed a law expressly prohibiting implementation of the act.

The federal government found coercing unwilling states wasn’t as easy as anticipated. Instead of forcing the issue, the feds issued waiver after waiver after waiver.

But last year, the federal government ramped up bullying tactics in an effort to force reticent states into compliance. On Oct. 13, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) sent letters to five states denying their request for a time extensions to bring their driver’s licenses in compliance with REAL ID. If the feds follow through on their threats, this means that in 2018, residents of Oklahoma would have found themselves on a virtual no-fly list. They will need to have alternate ID, such as a passport, in order to clear TSA screening.

As part of the scare-tactic, signs have been placed at the airports across the country proclaiming the state’s driver’s licenses will be no good as of Jan. 2018.

But if history provides any indication, the feds will not follow through on their threats to punish non-compliant states. The federal government has played this game of brinkmanship for years, ultimately backing down and extending deadlines. It seems highly unlikely the feds will be willing to weather the political fallout the will result from keeping millions of Americans off commercial aircraft.

REAL ID creates huge administrative burdens for state governments, while providing only minimal federal funds for implementing its onerous requirements. At the same time, it does nothing to combat terrorism and puts Americans at greater risk for invasions of privacy and identity theft. REAL ID represents not just an unfunded mandate, but an unconstitutional expansion of federal power over something reserved to the states under the 10th Amendment.

For more on the case for state resistance to REAL ID, click HERE.

TJ Martinell

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