Our Views: The state is worried about foreign threads in Old Glory? _lowres


We’ve cataloged some dumb bills during this session of the Legislature, but now there is a repeat offender in the numbskull department: driver’s license bills.

In 2014, after years of needless concerns over federal intrusion into the identification business, the Legislature passed a bill that would allow people to get driver’s licenses that comply with the so-called Real ID law or continue with a traditional license.

By complying with the federal statute, Louisiana travelers would be able to use their licenses for airline travel, identification at military bases and other basic purposes. Sounds simple, but passionate objection to this by the few overrode common sense. Then-Gov. Bobby Jindal vetoed the bill.

Starting Oct. 1, 2020, every air traveler will need identification that complies with Real ID. If the state’s licenses aren’t compliant, passengers will need another form of acceptable identification, such as a passport.

Now, the state House, instead of simply authorizing a compliant license, has created a double driver’s license nightmare.

It was past time for Louisiana to get on board, and Gov. John Bel Edwards indicated he would sign a new bill that basically tracks the provision of the 2014 proposal.

The latest state legislation would require residents to obtain two separate cards — a Real ID-compliant card and a state driver’s license — if people want to meet the federal government’s upcoming security standards and be able to drive in the state.

The amended version of House Bill 702 requiring two separate cards is the brainchild of an anti-government conservative running for Congress, state Rep. Mike Johnson, R-Bossier City. He raised a specter over privacy and the federal government collecting data on driver’s licenses even for those who don’t opt-in to the Real ID terms.

“You’ve already lost your liberty right there,” he said. “The federal government is not a great steward of our privacy and private information.”

This kind of nonsense is why we’ve started highlighting “Capitol Follies” on this page, but Johnson’s amendment was passed by a 56-41 vote, suggesting that the government-as-conspiracy crowd has more supporters than we expected.

Louisiana residents who want the Real ID card would have to pay a second fee on top of their driver’s license costs.

If you want less government, why would you want to create two driver’s licenses? And why would you want to add yet another fee on the driver who just wants to be able to use his or her license to board an airplane?

The 2014 legislation should have settled this. Passage of a virtually identical bill in 2016 would have settled this.

We hope the Senate will show more common sense and prevail upon the House to back a sensible Real ID bill.