Legislators wrap up productive 2017 session
Missouriís 126th District
JEFFERSON CITY, MO Ė The Missouri House of Representatives wrapped up a productive legislative session May 13. While lawmakers sent a lower number of bills than normal to the governor, those that did make it included many of the policy priorities that were laid out by the House Speaker during his opening day address. Included in the approximately 75 bills moving across the finish line were legislative pieces I sponsored on teacher retirement protections and mental health providers for Missouri.
Highlights of the 2017 session included a fiscally responsible state spending plan that makes a record level investment in K-12 education by fully funding the Foundation Formula. The tort reform bills that made it through the legislative process will help put an end to frivolous lawsuits by putting new expert witness standards in place, and strengthening Missouriís workplace discrimination standards. Another major accomplishment for the legislature this year is the passage of legislation that will establish a regulatory framework for ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft so they can expand and create jobs throughout Missouri.
Legislation was also finalized for Missourians to obtain federal REAL ID-Compliant Photo Identification (HB 151). The legislation that is now on its way to the governor will require the state revenue department to issue REAL ID-compliant driverís licenses and identification cards to those who want them. Compliant licenses will be needed to do things like board airplanes and enter military bases and federal buildings.
Passed by the U.S. Congress in 2005, The REAL ID Act was designed to enhance security procedures by establishing new minimum standards for driverís licenses. Missouri responded to the requirements by passing a state law in 2009 to protect the private information of Missouri citizens by prohibiting the Missouri Department of Revenue from complying with the federal act. Because of this law, current Missouri driverís licenses are not compliant with the federal standards and were set to be no longer valid at airports and federal facilities beginning in 2018.
With the legislation approved this week, Missourians will now have the option to obtain a federally compliant driverís license. The bill will also allow individuals with a non-compliant driverís license to obtain a compliant version at no additional cost. However, even with the change, it will take the Department of Revenue as long as two years to make the new REAL ID-compliant licenses available. In order to allow people to travel and access federal facilities, the state will seek a waiver from the federal government to allow existing identification to continue to work until the new IDs are attainable.
For Missourians who do not want to comply with the REAL ID requirements because of privacy concerns, the legislation will allow them to request the existing style of Missouri identification that is not compliant with the federal act. For those who want or need the federally compliant driverís license, the bill will establish safeguards so that any additional data gathered is used only for purposes of issuing the identification. One provision would ensure the source documents to obtain an ID are stored on a server that is not connected to the Internet in order to prevent hacking of the database. The bill also includes criminal penalties for misuse or unlawful access of personal data.
Other changes made in the bill will require the legislature to revisit the issue in the event the federal government changes the REAL ID Act, and will repeal the section entirely if the federal government ends the program.
Supporters say the bill is designed to provide a reasonable solution that will ensure Missourians arenít burdened with having to get alternative identifications to access federal facilities or to visit family members on military bases. They say the bill is about giving Missourians the freedom to decide whether to obtain identification that is compliant with REAL ID.
Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your state representative. Please contact me at email@example.com or 573-751-5388 with any questions or concerns regarding state issues. My office is open year-round in Jefferson City, Monday through Thursday.