A bill that would let Louisiana motorists obtain a driver’s license that meets federal travel rules — known as Real ID — cleared a House committee Tuesday.
The vote by the House Transportation Committee was 10-5 and followed nearly two hours of discussion.
The measure, House Bill 702, next faces action on the House floor.
Under the proposal, motorists could request a driver’s license that meets security requirements spelled out in a 2005 federal law.
The change was recommended by the 9/11 Commission as a way to ensure that airline passengers, and those who visit military bases and federal courthouses, are who they say they are.
Freshman state Rep. Jimmy Harris, D-New Orleans, sponsor of the bill, said he was rushing to catch a flight in Newark, New Jersey, on the morning of 9/11 — the same airport where a plane hijacked by terrorists later crashed in Pennsylvania.
Harris also said his sister was working in Dublin that day or would have been in one of the twin towers.
“If she had not been in Dublin, she would have been in one of those buildings that went down,” Harris said.
“So this particular legislation is something that is near and dear to me,” he said. “This legislation is about national security.”
State Rep. Terry Landry, D-Lafayette, cosponsor of the legislation, said the option helps address a question he heard often after 9/11 when he was superintendent of the State Police — how could the terrorist attacks happen?
“I want a Real ID and should have the option to get one,” Landry said.
Officials of the state Office of Motor Vehicles said the key document needed for Real ID applicants would be a copy of their birth certificate.
Opponents said private information that motorists have to submit to the state could be indiscriminately shared nationwide.
Lisa Arceri, who lives in Metairie, said she opposes the bill because papers required to get a Real ID are scanned and then given access to “other parties.”
Rep. Johnny Guinn R-Jennings, who opposed the bill, repeatedly questioned whether requirements to get a Real ID ran afoul of constitutional rights.
“I don’t know that the Real ID act would have prevented 9/11,” Guinn said.
The Legislature passed a similar bill in 2014, but it was vetoed by then-Gov. Bobby Jindal.
Gov. John Bel Edwards backs this year’s version.
The bill would allow motorists to apply for a traditional driver’s license.
However, they would have to produce other forms of identification to board domestic airlines starting Jan. 22, 2018.
“The federal government can keep you from getting on that airplane,” Harris said. “They have made that clear.”
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