The federal government gave Montana a one-year extension to comply with the REAL ID law. Without it, Montanans could not board a commercial airplane or enter federal buildings after January 22, 2018 using their driver’s license. The alternative was another federally issued identification, like a passport.
The Department of Homeland Security had said it would only grant Montana an extension was if the state made a commitment toward making substantial and documented progress toward complying with REAL ID.
In the past, elected officials had resisted. In part it was over ideology, inadequate technology, and cost. Eventually the federal government put its foot down.
MVD Administrator Sarah Garcia says this one-year extension gives the division time to hire new staff and get the necessary equipment in place to meet the REAL ID requirements.
“The goal is to issue the first REAL ID compliant cards by January 1, 2019,” says Garcia. Since the current extension will expire October 10, 2018 she says another extension will be needed, “Just to be sure that we have adequate time to get to that January 1 2019 to issue those cards.”
She says the extension also gives Montanans time to prepare for REAL ID credentials to be issued.
The division is also working with students at MSU Billings to develop a public information campaign on Montana’s efforts to meet the REAL ID requirements. The campus agreed to develop the campaign for free. The state will pay for student materials, research, advertisement printing, and on-air placement.