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Berks lawmakers explain Pennsylvania's compliance with Real ID law

Video: Berks County lawmakers explain...

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf is expected to sign into law a measure that will allow the state to comply with the federal Real ID law

State lawmakers approved a bill this week that allows PennDOT to make driver's licenses that have enhanced security features.

Without the new licenses, people in Pennsylvania will be banned from entering military bases and federal buildings after June 6.

After January 22, 2018, people will need a Real ID or a passport to fly, even domestically.

State Rep. Mark Rozzi, a Democrat, and Rep. Mark Gillen, a Republican, both of whom represent Berks County, agreed with the passage of the bill.

"Only one state representative voted against it, and only one state senator voted against it," Gillen said. "I think there was an overwhelming sense in the [Pennsylvania] House of Representatives and the Pennsylvania Senate that we need to comport with the federal requirement but have a Pennsylvania twist to it."

That twist is a two-tier system that allows Pennsylvanians to have the choice between getting a Real ID or keeping their traditional driver's license.

"If you're a Pennsylvania resident and you do not board a plane or enter any federal facility or military base, you can stay with the conventional ID, but if you do decide to travel, you will need a passport," said Rozzi.

State lawmakers also had to vote on the bill by June 6 in order secure an extension with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to implement the Real ID program.

"That's going to be really a matter of negotiation between the commonwealth of Pennsylvania and Homeland Security, and that decision has not been made as of yet." added Gillen.

"PennDOT said it will take at least 18 to 24 months to implement this program, and we have a deadline to institute this federal mandate by 2020," added Rozzi.

The Real ID will require a more strenuous background check, and Rozzi estimates the new ID will cost at least $11 more.

Gillen and Rozzi said passing the bill was the right move, but they differ on the reach of the bill.

Gillen said he's in favor the bill giving Pennsylvanians the option to choose between the two IDs; Rozzi said he's considering introducing a bill that would require first-time ID applicants to get the Real ID to avoid confusion in the future.

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