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Homeland Security

ID checks might be more difficult for residents of Missouri, Illinois and two other states.
Department of Homeland Security

Missouri IDs do not meet the federal standard, and lawmakers are dragging their feet to do something about it. 

After 9/11, Congress passed the Real ID Act in 2005 as an extra security measure in airports and military facilities. The Department of Homeland Security’s Secure Driver’s Licenses web page includes a quote from The 9/11 Commission Report, “For terrorists, travel documents are as important as weapons.”

12.12 Law enforcement officers were present outside the Thomas F. Eagleton US Courthouse in downtown St. Louis.
Rebecca Smith | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 4:28 p.m. Jan. 8 with announcement from Homeland Security- The regulatory clock is now ticking loudly for state lawmakers in Jefferson City, Mo., and Springfield, Ill., to ensure that residents of both states can use their state-issued driver's licenses and identification cards as proper forms of identification to board commercial airliners.

ID checks might be more difficult for residents of Missouri, Illinois and two other states.
Department of Homeland Security

Republican Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder may have put U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., in a difficult position with his harsh comments about a law Blunt originally co-sponsored when he served in the U.S. House.

The law establishes federal standards for issuing driver’s licenses. Residents of a few states, including Missouri and Illinois, whose licenses don’t comply could be denied access to federal facilities or commercial airplanes. Passports will work if federal agencies say those licenses are no longer acceptable government issued identification.

Gage Skidmore | Flickr

With the Feb. 27 deadline looming to fund the Department of Homeland Security -- and a weeklong congressional recess approaching -- an end to the impasse over deportation policy seems as elusive as ever.

House Republicans already have passed a nearly $4o billion budget for Homeland Security, but it included controversial provisions to cut funding necessary to implement President Barack Obama’s executive order halting deportations for millions of undocumented immigrants. Senate Democrats have refused to pass a funding bill as long as it contains those provisions.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The Missouri Capitol's continued debate over the state's scanning of personal documents, including concealed-carry permits, has taken another turn as state Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, has raised the prospect of doing away with the state’s new system for producing drivers licenses and returning to the old over-the-counter setup.

Meanwhile, Gov. Jay Nixon’s office has swiftly sought to dispute questions raised by Republicans, including Schaefer, about a 2010 letter from the federal Department of Homeland Security that lauded Nixon for complying with aspects of the federal REAL ID mandate.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon contended today that the state Senate was jeopardizing the public’s safety by cutting out $21 million in federal homeland security grants distributed to hundreds of local law enforcement agencies.

But the Republican senator responsible for the cut later accused the governor, a Democrat, of engaging in “sequester-type drama’’ to avoid dealing with the legislative disputes that prompted the Senate action.

St. Louis Lambert International Airport
Michael R. Allen | Flickr

Some passengers at Lambert Airport will be allowed to keep their belts and shoes on while passing through security checkpoints.

The Transportation Security Administration is including St. Louis in a program to make check-in more convenient for frequent fliers. The TSA says the program, which has been tested at seven major airports, will expand to 28 others, including Lambert, this year. 

(IEMA website)

Reporting from Illinois Public Radio's Sean Crawford used in this report.

Illinois is asking for broad input on homeland security planning.  
 
Illinois Emergency Management Agency Director Jonathon Monken says he wants to engage the whole statewide community, not just those whose job it is to make sure Illinois is prepared.  In the past, the state took comments primarily from first responders and public health officials.  But Monken says this time, his agency wants to also hear from businesses, faith based groups and individual residents.  
 

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Sept. 9, 2011 - It might be better to be safe than sorry, but when it comes to homeland security, following that advice can be expensive.

Take, for instance, rubber overshoes purchased for the St. Louis Police Department in case of a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or explosive emergency. At nearly $11 each, a complement of 1,600 cost more than $17,000.

Homeland security: 'Did we spend the money wisely

Sep 9, 2011

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Sept. 9, 2011 - Until about five years ago, the on-scene communications hub for first responders during emergencies in Franklin County was just radio equipment in a cluster of SUVs.

Then homeland security money from the federal government became available, and regional planners used about $250,000 of it to buy a "mobile command vehicle" for the county, complete with a conference room, computer hookups and technology that allows various first responders to communicate on radios that would otherwise be incompatible.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Aug. 3, 2011 - John Redden, deputy chief of police in Carterville, doesn't take his upgraded communications system for granted. That's just not something you can do in a small southwestern Missouri town.

Redden's department got new radios, courtesy of federal Homeland Security money. They make Redden's job in the police department easier, but, more important, he says the devices saved officers' lives in the line of duty.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: When the Department of Homeland Security released a list in May of cities that qualified for the Urban Area Security Initiative program, Kansas City didn't make the cut -- even though it's been receiving funds since 2003.

This year, St. Louis was the only city in Missouri to receive part of the $662.6 million allocated toward preventing or responding to terrorism, and it will likely receive a smaller slice -- about $5.97 million -- than in the 2010 budget year.