By Kurt Erickson
Missouri residents will be able to board airplanes and enter federal installations using their current driver's licenses and identification cards following a decision by the federal government.
In an announcement Tuesday, the Missouri Department of Revenue said the state has been granted a nearly yearlong waiver to begin complying with the federal REAL ID Act.
Without the waiver, airports could have turned away Missourians attempting to board planes using their IDs beginning in January.
The extension is the latest step in a lengthy tussle between Missouri and the federal government over tougher security features for driver's licenses that were rolled out in the wake of the 2001 terrorist attacks in New York.
Missouri lawmakers have been at odds with the law since it went into effect in 2005, arguing that the provisions could allow state residents' personal information to be hacked or misused.
In 2009, Missouri approved a law prohibiting the Department of Revenue from complying with the new regulations, joining more than a dozen other states enacting similar bans.
But support for that law began unraveling when contractors and truckers began having trouble getting into federal facilities in Missouri like Fort Leonard Wood and Whiteman Air Force Base that require the enhanced IDs.
This spring, the Legislature approved a plan to begin offering a federally compliant license.
The new law allows people to have the option of getting an enhanced ID or continuing to use the non-compliant ID.
The state is now in the midst of a two-step plan aimed at launching the new cards within the next 18 months.
The first phase will focus on getting federal approval for the design of the new identification cards.
The second phase is aimed at getting final approval by March 2019. Among the tasks is finalizing fingerprint background checks on Department of Revenue employees who work with driver's licenses and identification cards.
Revenue spokeswoman Anne Marie Moy said the waiver runs through October 2018, which means the state will have to apply for a second waiver next year.
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