Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) said the bill is a substitute for House Bill 589 that was approved by representatives in April.
Supporters say voter ID is necessary to insure there's no ballot fraud in the state. Critics say voter fraud has never been a problem and voter ID bills across the nation are naked attempts by Republicans to exclude voters who are more likely to pick Democrat candidates.
The Senate bill proposed Thursday establishes a list of valid government-issued photo IDs. They include driver's licenses, non-operator ID cards, tribal and military IDs and passports. It also allows anyone without a valid photo ID to obtain one at no cost through the Department of Motor Vehicles.
The law would go into full effect in 2016.
"For years, an overwhelming majority of North Carolinians have voiced strong support for this common sense policy," said Berger in a statement. "This bill restores clarity, transparency and confidence in the voting process. It curtails questions of voter fraud by folks on both sides of the aisle and helps ensure every candidate wins or loses on his or her own merits."
Republicans said if the bill passes, North Carolina will join more than 30 states that already have a voter ID law.
A recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the Voting Rights Act essentially means the state doesn't have to receive advance approval by U.S. Justice Department attorneys or a federal court for the bill to be enacted.