OLYMPIA, Wash. — People in Washington state likely won't have to worry next year about the identification they take to the airport after Gov. Jay Inslee signed a measure Tuesday seeking to make the state one of more than two dozen in compliance with federal identification requirements.
Washington and several other states have struggled for years to comply with the REAL ID Act, a 2005 federal law that requires state driver's licenses and ID cards to have security enhancements and to be issued to people who can prove they are legally in the United States.
The law was passed after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks to strengthen rules for identification needed at airports and federal facilities.
Some liberal and conservative states have objected to the new rules, with concerns ranging from discrimination to worries that law-abiding U.S. citizens could be tracked using the new system.
Others have opposed the U.S. government unilaterally setting standards in an area traditionally handled by states.
With a January deadline looming, lawmakers across the country have been scrambling for legislative fixes so residents can board flights and travel without confusion.
"This will help to ease problems at border crossings, airports, federal courthouses, and military bases where REAL ID compliant documents are required," Inslee said before he signed the bill, adding that the measure ensures the "convenience and security of our citizens."
Just 25 states and the District of Columbia are currently in compliance with the federal law, though most of the remaining states and territories have been granted various extensions.
Residents of states that are in compliance have until Oct. 21, 2020, before being required to show the REAL ID compliant identification.
Residents of states that are not in compliance with REAL ID and do not have an extension need additional identification for access to some military bases and federal facilities and, starting next Jan. 22, to board commercial flights.
Washington state already offers, but does not mandate, enhanced driver's licenses and IDs that require proof of U.S. citizenship and are valid under the federal law. The state also issues standard licenses that don't comply with the federal rule.