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State senator asks Dunleavy to use influence with Trump to delay Real ID deadline

  • Author: James Brooks
  • Updated: January 2
  • Published January 2

Passengers wait to go through a security checkpoint at the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport on Monday, Dec. 16, 2019. (Tess Williams / ADN)

Sen. Donny Olson, D-Golovin, is asking Gov. Mike Dunleavy to use his influence with President Donald Trump and ask the president to push back the deadline for Alaskans to have IDs that meet federal requirements.

Without a delay, Olson said, rural Alaskans may not be able to get theirs on time and will suffer significant consequences.

Anyone who doesn’t have a federally sufficient ID, such as a passport, tribal ID card or Real ID-compliant driver’s license by Oct. 1, will be unable to fly aboard a commercial airliner, enter a federal building or access a military base.

Last month, Alaska Department of Administration Commissioner Kelly Tshibaka said the department needs $60,000 to visit rural communities that don’t have DMV offices. She suggested the state could ask for donations. At least one community, Toksook Bay, has already agreed to pay to fly DMV officials in.

Olson, who represents the North Slope, Northwest Arctic Borough, Seward Peninsula, western Interior and the Yukon River delta region, said it is unacceptable to solicit donations for something that is required.

“For a governmental agency or a governmental department to go ahead and solicit funds from the private sector to pay for something they’re mandating, I find that not just unprecedented … but I find it somewhat also offensive,” he said.

The Alaska Legislature could provide the DMV with extra funding in a supplemental budget, but Olson said that given the time needed for that process, the funding may not arrive in time to help.

Summer is fishing season, he said, which means Alaskans who rely on subsistence will be working and thus unable to visit towns and cities. Winter, he suggested, would be the best time for a coordinated push. He believes multiple DMV visits will be needed to communities, given the complexity of the Real ID process.

Dunleavy has previously promoted his relationship with President Trump as something that is good for Alaska, and Olson suggested the governor use that relationship to get the federal government to delay the Oct. 1 deadline in order to facilitate better outreach to rural Alaska.

“It’s pretty evident that Washington, D.C., doesn’t always see things the way we here in the Bush do,” Olson said.

He said he has not yet received a response from the governor’s office, which did not respond Thursday to questions about his request. The Department of Administration and DMV also did not respond to requests for comment Thursday.

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