FAIRBANKS — Another deadline is approaching that would make Alaska driver’s licenses invalid for entry to Fort Wainwright and other military installations.
If Alaska doesn’t receive another extension for compliance with the federal REAL ID Act in the next few months, state identification cards won’t be valid starting July 11.
The deadline won’t directly affect soldiers and airmen who use their Department of Defense IDs to access bases, but it may limit access for some civilians who don’t have passports or other federal forms of identification.
Congress passed the REAL ID act in 2005, setting state identification card standards recommended by the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks, also known as the 9/11 Commission. Since the bill’s passage, the Department of Homeland Security has delayed enforcement of the bill several times.
The Alaska legislature expressed opposition to the REAL ID law in 2008 by passing a bill that prohibited the state from spending money to comply with the law. As in other states, critics in Alaska fear the law moves the United States toward a national identification card system and could erode privacy rights.
This year, Alaska Gov. Bill Walker introduced a bill that would create a bifurcated identification card system in Alaska.
Residents could choose to pay $5 more for a REAL ID-compliant identification card and those who want the traditional noncompliant card would still have that option. The bill is making its way through both chambers of the state Legislature.
Other states with noncompliant driver’s licenses or licenses that will be noncompliant by July are Maine, Missouri, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Montana, Minnesota and Washington, according to a news release from Fort Wainwright.
The latter two states offer optional enhanced ID cards like the one that’s been proposed for Alaska.