Bush Alaska lawmakers seek extension of REAL ID deadline due to coronavirus concerns

Rep. Neal Foster, D- Nome, at a House Majority press availability on March 21, 2017. (Photo by Skip Gray/KTOO)

Legislators who represent the bulk of Alaska’s villages are asking the state’s congressional delegation to try to extend the deadline for Alaskans to get REAL ID-compliant identification. The request comes amid concerns over the coronavirus.

The federal government is mandating that any Alaskan who wants to travel commercially on a plane must have one of those IDs by Oct. 1.

In a letter to Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, as well as Congressman Don Young, the Alaska House Bush Caucus wrote that the state Division of Motor Vehicles has yet to come up with a process to help rural Alaskans. Many of them don’t have DMV access in their villages to get their REAL IDs.

The lawmakers say those problems have been compounded by travel concerns brought on by the coronavirus. As of Monday morning, there were no confirmed positive cases of coronavirus in any of the state’s numerous village communities, but several villages have enacted various travel restrictions for their communities.

The caucus notes that the federal government has already extended several deadlines, including the deadline to file taxes and suspension of student loan interest and nationwide standardized testing.

The Alaska House Bush Caucus is made up of Reps. Bryce Edgmon, I-Dillingham; Tiffany Zulkosky, D-Bethel; Neal Foster, D-Nome; and John Lincoln, I-Kotzebue.