In 2016, according to law, the U.S. government will begin to require that airline passengers have driver’s licenses — the most common form of identification — that meet federal standards.
With luck, Louisiana will meet that deadline.
But not this year, courtesy of Gov. Bobby Jindal.
This so-called Real ID has raised the hackles of those who believe the government is an elaborate conspiracy against them. Either “they” in Washington are stealing personal data via Real ID or confiscating shotguns from hunters or giving away national assets to China or Russia or whomever — right up to commissioning black helicopters to swoop in on honest citizen-victims.
This fantasia of nonsense has had some political resonance in — where else? — the Louisiana Legislature.
Several years ago, legislators passed a law intended to block the state’s compliance with the Real ID requirements — although as it turned out, most of what Real ID requires was basically already done in the ordinary course of enrolling people with driver’s licenses.
For a while, all seemed well. As Jindal pointed out, only 20 states so far have complied with Real ID requirements, and the U.S. government via the Department of Homeland Security is obviously reluctant to throw the air-passenger system into chaos. While many Americans have passports, an obvious and suitable ID for travel, most do not.
Lawmakers passed a compromise this year, allowing people who want to opt out of Real ID to get a noncompliant license, and those who want to go somewhere on an airplane to get the practical license.
No, says Jindal. He vetoed the bill. He said State Police asked for more time on the legislation, but it was our impression that the agency was fine with the compromise.
“This timeline is still a year and a half away while this legislation would subject the State of Louisiana to unnecessary federal oversight of our drivers’ licenses,” Jindal said. “This is why the Eagle Forum, the Louisiana Family Forum and Tea Party of Louisiana have asked for a veto of the bill due to concerns about whether it will compromise Louisiana’s sovereignty over what is fundamentally a state method of identification.”
As we said, maybe this pandering to the far right in politics won’t be permanent, as the Legislature again meets in 2015, but Jindal will still be governor and will be right then bidding for the support of the Iowa caucus’s analog of the Family Forum. Family values being dependent on state sovereignty, apparently, we might see another veto.
Maybe the feds won’t enforce this law, when push comes to shove. And we don’t want to needlessly urge people to get a passport, as it does cost more money than a Louisiana driver’s license.
But you just never know about this administration.