Staring down a federal deadline, the state Legislature is starting to move legislation that could prevent Pennsylvanians from needing a passport to board airplanes.

After a recent extension, the state has until June 5 to gain compliance under the federal Real ID Act, which establishes minimum-security standards for state-issued licenses and IDs and prohibits federal agencies from accepting licenses and IDs from states that don't meet these standards, according to the Department of Homeland Security website.

If the state doesn't meet those standards, residents will need an alternate form of identification to gain admission to all federal facilities, military bases and nuclear power plants.

Effective Jan. 22, 2018, residents also will need an alternative form of ID accepted by the Transportation Security Administration to board a commercial flight.

State Department of Transportation spokesman Rich Kirkpatrick wrote in an email previously that his agency would need at least 18 to 24 months to make all of the required changes.

Before those changes can be complete, though, the General Assembly must allow them to begin.

By passing Act 38 in 2012, lawmakers prohibited PennDOT or the governor from participating in the Real ID Act. The noncompliance act was passed amid estimates that implementation would cost about $150 million.

With the federal Department of Homeland Security promising to stop granting extensions, lawmakers in the House and Senate have proposed legislation to repeal Act 38.

On Monday, the Senate Appropriations Committee voted nearly unanimously to pass one of those bills, sponsored by Sen. Kim Ward, R-Westmoreland County.

Pennsylvania is one of eight noncompliant states in the country. The others are Kentucky, Maine, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Minnesota, Missouri and Washington, according to Homeland Security.

— Reach David Weissman at or on Twitter at @DispatchDavid.

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