SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah state legislators are set to consider a proposal at a special session next month that would ensure state driver’s licenses have a federally required gold star on the front, which would prevent residents from being turned away by airport security in the future.
The Salt Lake Tribune reports that a transportation committee at the Legislature endorsed the bill this week, marking the first step in a process aimed at ensuring Utah residents don’t have any problems in 2020 when the Department of Homeland Security will require the gold star on licenses.
State officials became aware of the issue this summer when Homeland Security officials informed Utah Driver License Division Director Chris Caras of the problem. The gold star is required as a sign that the state reviewed birth certificates or passports to make sure license holders are U.S. citizens.
Homeland Security has warned the state it won’t accept Utah driver’s licenses at airport security if the issue isn’t fixed by Oct. 1, 2020.
The problem was created in 2010 when state lawmakers voted to stop complying with the REAL ID Act in protest over unfunded federal mandates. The sponsors of that measure, Republican Sen. Margaret Dayton and Republican Rep. Steve Sandstrom, are no longer members of the Legislature.
To fix the problem, lawmakers must now take legislative action to allow the gold star to be added to licenses.
The cost to fix the problem could be as little as $2 million if lawmakers take action in a special session in November, but as much as $5 million if they wait, state officials said.
Caras said his agency could begin adding the gold starts to licenses issued in December if lawmakers authorize at the special session. Each month the state waits will cost $80,000 more because cards will be issued without the gold starts and need to be reissued at a later date.
If the proposal is rejected and Utah is found noncompliant by Homeland Security, Utah travelers would need to bring a passport or some other form of acceptable ID with them to the airport.