Louisiana driver’s licenses would be used to comply with federal law requiring each state to create a national identification card for air travel, including domestic flights, under a proposal inserted Wednesday into House Bill 395 by the Senate Transportation Committee.
Senators added that language into a separate measure by state Rep. Johnny Guinn, R-Jennings. If approved by lawmakers, the provision would reverse a state stance since 2008 rejecting the added security requirement as too intrusive.
Officials with the state motor vehicles department said that if the state doesn’t comply with the federal Real ID law, residents would need passports to fly starting in October.
“Whether we like it or not, we’re stuck with it,” said state Sen. Robert Adley, R-Benton, committee chairman. “It’s better to deal with it like this.”
Adley and other committee members said modifying driver’s license requirements would be easier and less costly to residents, with passports potentially costing $75 or more. State driver’s licenses cost around $25.
Under the proposal, federally compliant driver’s licenses would be stamped with a U.S. Department of Homeland Security gold star emblem and would require that residents present additional documentation, such as a birth certificate or a Social Security card, to state motor vehicle officials when applying for a license or a renewal.
That information would be entered into a national database.
Residents who don’t meet the federal standards — or who opt out of supplying the additional information — would be issued licenses stamped with the words “Not for federal identification.”
The Federal Real Identification Act was passed in 2005 on the recommendation of the 9/11 Commission, but several states balked at some of the measures as an invasion of privacy. Initial requirements called for an embedded chip on passports and licenses that allow for tracking.
State officials said the tracking chip won’t be included on Louisiana’s driver’s license, although it is on passports.
Implementation of the Real ID act was set to be effective earlier this year but has been delayed several times.
The rewritten bill moves to the full state Senate for debate. If approved there, it would have to go back to the Louisiana House for approval of the addition.