PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — When we were in school it meant a lot of getting your paper back from the teacher with a gold star. Now gold stars are on the way to your Pennsylvania driver’s license.

The gold star has become the symbol of a Real ID. That is the designation and standard the Department of Homeland Security has been pushing all the states towards over the past 12 years.

DHS is trying to establish a baseline of standards for applying for and getting a legitimate driver’s license or identification.

The idea is to tighten up on the process nationwide to keep those with nefarious intent from getting an ID.

When this first came up, the Pennsylvania legislature passed Act 38 to prevent the state from complying because the mandate didn’t come with funding to implement the changes. But the countdown is on to January when DHS says only Real ID’s will be acceptable in places like the airport when you pass through screening. You will be able to use your passport, but not your regular driver’s license.

The state Senate has passed a bill (and Gov. Tom Wolf, on Wednesday, said he’ll sign it) that would repeal Act 38 and open the door for PennDOT to make the needed changes. The governor is encouraging the state house to pass the bill as written.

PennDOT’s Alexis Campbell says the Pennsylvania driver’s license information is the same as a Real ID. The biggest changes are in the applying, processing and renewing rules.

Even there, Campbell says, “We are already verifying identity in the ways are in line with the Real ID regulations.”

There are some changes PennDOT will have to make and the rollout of Real ID won’t come quickly.

Campbell says, “Our initial timeline is about 18-24 months to become fully Real ID compliant in Pennsylvania.”

Pennsylvania is currently under a limited extension, which DHS would like extend as along as the Commonwealth is on the path to compliance. That extension will allow you to continue using your Pennsylvania Driver’s License as legal ID when you travel, until Real ID is up and running.

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