If you were tired of the rigmarole of flying commercial before, wait until the U.S. Transportation Security Administration really cracks down.
Like requiring a passport for U.S. travel, or — and this is considered a best-case scenario — extra-thorough screening of passengers without federally approved identification. Thinking of the lines involved should give passengers a headache, and also make them wonder about the judgment of state legislators.
The travel-ID crackdown could be as early as Jan. 15, because Louisiana is one of a handful of states still holding out against what is called Real ID, the national standard for state driver’s licenses. Established in 2005, the Real ID sets a series of requirements that were much-criticized by the states, because of cost concerns, and privacy advocates of the political left and right.
As with most things, the government has compromised on some requirements, but has largely gotten its way. Even Louisiana, where conspiracy theorists seem to have an unusually strong hold on the Legislature, complies with 37 of 39 requirements.
But a couple of small things were not done by Louisiana — such as numbering and certifying the proper quality of paper for licenses.
Is that all? Honestly, rebellion against government dictates is not what it used to be.
The state license bureau says Louisiana will meet most of the requirements of the federal law by October, but that a 2008 state law — passed in the full cry of anti-Real ID agitation, and signed by Gov. Bobby Jindal — blocks the final steps to become compliant. And TSA has indicated that it really, really means it this time and will require passports or take other steps that will greatly inconvenience Louisiana travelers.
The only exception, apparently, would be travelers over age 50, but the federal law contemplates that eventually everyone would have a compliant ID.
We hope that the TSA gives travelers a break this time, and continues to work with legislatures that are not compliant, including Louisiana’s.
A crackdown would be a real hardship, as many Louisianians do not have passports. Air travel is not a luxury but a business necessity, and there are real economic costs to a crackdown.
But if this crackdown does come about, who is responsible? We’d suggest the governor and Legislature who were so bent on defying the federal government on this issue that they’re holding out on minor matters that are merely symbolic, but can result in serious difficulty for Louisianians trying to get on a plane.