As The Hayride previously reported, Louisianians may need passports to fly in 2016. This is because the REAL ID law is set to come in effect. The law mandates that drivers’ licenses and state-issued IDs have certain features or they won’t be accepted for entry into Federal buildings or won’t be accepted by the TSA.
Senator David Vitter and Congressman Charles Boustany sent a letter to Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson requesting an extension. Senator Bill Cassidy co-signed it. Every congressman except for Steve Scalise also co-signed it. Here’s what they said.
Today, U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, M.D., Sen. David Vitter, Rep. Ralph Abraham, Rep. Charles Boustany, Rep. Cedric Richmond and Rep. Garret Graves sent a letter to Jeh Johnson, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), requesting an extended deadline for Louisiana to be in compliance with the requirements of the REAL ID Act of 2005.
“It has become apparent that the State of Louisiana will not be fully compliant in time for the October 10, 2015deadline, when REAL ID-valid identification will become necessary for entry into federal facilities…We trust that the state wants to continue to work with the Department of Homeland Security to ensure that Louisiana driver’s licenses and special IDs will still offer the requisite information that protects our national security,” wrote the Members. “With this in mind, we ask you to please grant an exception and extend the REAL ID implementation deadline for the State of Louisiana.”
“The REAL ID law will be expensive and inconvenient for families if Louisiana is not granted an extension. Not everyone has an extra $100+ to renew or get a passport. If the state of Louisiana recognizes our licenses as valid, the federal government should respect this,” said Sen. Cassidy, M.D.
“Under no circumstances should Louisianians be turned away for using their legal driver’s licenses to travel or enter federal buildings. There is a clear precedent for granting extensions, and there is no justifiable reason for DHS to pursue this arbitrary cutoff date,” said Sen. Vitter.
“Louisiana is taking all the necessary steps to comply with new REAL ID standards, but law enforcement officials in the state say we need just a little more time. The Department of Homeland Security should grant this delay as soon as possible to ensure no Louisiana citizens are unnecessarily barred from entry into federal buildings or installations,”said Rep. Boustany, M.D.
“Louisiana travelers don’t need the added expense of purchasing extra identification just to board planes. I’m hopeful DHS will grant the extension to allow our state leaders the time they need to address their concerns with REAL ID and resolve this issue,” said Rep. Abraham, M.D.
The REAL ID Act set national standards for identification cards, including driver’s licenses. In 2008, the Louisiana legislature rejected implementation of the program, citing concerns over privacy issues. Changing course, the State legislature passed a separate bill allowing the standards to be implemented to Louisiana driver’s license and special identification cards, which Governor Bobby Jindal has vetoed.
In today’s letter, the Members request additional time for Louisiana to implement the REAL ID standards, citing proactive measures the state has already taken in ensuring personal identification cards are safe, accurate, and secure while also ensuring an individual’s privacy is not violated. If the state does not comply with the standards byOctober 10, 2015, residents will be required to present a second form of identification for certain activities, such as boarding an airplane or gaining entrance to federal buildings. Louisiana is one of four U.S. territories currently not in compliance with all DHS-mandated REAL ID requirements.
My guess is that DHS will grant the waiver, pending the result of the governor’s race. They know the bill to comply with REAL ID will pass the Legislature again in 2016 and Governor David Vitter, John Bel Edwards, Jay Dardenne, or Scott Angelle will likely sign it. Jindal vetoed it for his presidential ambitions this year.
But I would still get my passport, just in case.
Original version had Bill Cassidy as the lead author, however that was not the case. Boustany and Vitter were.