Montana has been granted another extension to meet federal REAL ID requirements, meaning state-issued driver licenses and identification cards can still be used to board planes.
Congress passed the REAL ID Act in 2005 on the recommendation of a committee formed after the 9/11 terror attacks. The act created minimum security standards for state-issued drivers licenses and identification cards.
Montana has long resisted complying with the act, saying the information required amounted to a violation of privacy and calling it government overreach. Over the years, the state has been issued extensions on compliance.
The current extension was set to expire Oct. 10. The new extension will continue through June 1, 2019, according to U.S. Sen. Steve Daines.
Extensions are granted if the state shows it is making an effort to reach compliance; they will no longer be granted after 2020.
At the start of next year, the state will start issuing REAL ID-compliant drivers licenses and identification cards. People will have the option to get compliant cards when renewing their license for an additional fee.
People can also get compliant cards even if their current license is not set to expire, though it will be more expensive.
During the 2017 Legislature, a bill carried by state Sen. Jill Cohenour, D-East Helena, gave Montanans the option of getting a REAL ID-compliant drivers license when they renew or get a new license. People can still get non-compliant licenses and ID cards.
The fees will pay for the cost to issue the licenses. That includes adding additional computers and scanners to get images of the documents required to get a compliant license. So far $75,000 has been spent on equipment and the public awareness campaign.
Editor's Note: This story has been updated to include the date the new extension will end.