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JUNEAU — The Alaska House passed a bill Saturday to allow Gov. Bill Walker’s administration to meet the requirements of the federal Real ID Act, as the Senate advanced its own legislation to meet a Wednesday deadline.
The vote, on House Bill 74, was 25-9, with the largely Democratic majority in favor of the bill except for Democratic Reps. Scott Kawasaki of Fairbanks and Chris Tuck of Anchorage.
In committee hearings, the legislation faced bipartisan opposition from lawmakers worried about the risk of disclosure of Alaskans’ personal data. But there were also powerful political interests pushing for the bill like organized labor and business groups, which want to maintain access to federal military bases during the summer construction season.
Without the legislation, Alaskans without “compliant” identification, like passports, are facing the possibility of being turned away from installations like Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage beginning June 7 — or at least needing an escort. The federal government has warned that starting in January, Alaskans might find themselves subject to extra scrutiny when they fly on commercial airlines using just a driver’s license for identification.
“I sympathize with my fellow representatives from both the majority and minority who oppose this bill, and Alaskans who view the federal requirements for state ID’s as federal overreach,” Fairbanks Democratic Rep. Adam Wool, who carried the bill on the House floor, said in a prepared statement. “Because of serious complications for Alaskans if the state refuses to comply with the federal law, the Alaska Legislature has to work within those realities to do what is best for Alaskans.”
HB 74 would give Alaskans the option of getting a “non-compliant” license, for which the Division of Motor Vehicles would keep “the minimum documents necessary” to issue it.
Gov. Bill Walker’s administration, which sponsored HB 74, said in a letter to lawmakers this month that the bill needs to pass by Wednesday — the Constitutional deadline for the end of the legislative session — to allow enough time to prepare a “compliance package” to send to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. (Continue on next page)