The tinfoil hat brigade is once again in charge of the Louisiana House of Representatives. Its members aim to spare us all from the intrusive scourge known as the REAL ID Act, which they just know fosters unfettered federal access to our private information.
I'm not making this up.
Congress passed the REAL ID Act in 2005 as an anti-terrorism measure — upon recommendation of the 9/11 Commission. The act sets minimum state ID standards that must be met in order to use those IDs to board domestic flights after September 2020.
If you don't lie awake at night fretting about Big Brother watching you, REAL ID is a no-brainer. If, on the other hand, you just can't buy enough copies of The Catcher in the Rye, well, you're too late. The feds already know everything about you.
Think about it: The average American adult already has a driver's license, a Social Security number, a history of tax returns, credit cards with easily tracked spending patterns, a cell phone that can be tracked and hacked, one or more email accounts, a Facebook page (on which many enthusiastically post all sorts of personal data), a federally issued passport, Internet access on a computer that probably has a built-in camera and definitely leaves a trail of every web site you visit, digital medical records and God-knows-what-else that Big Brother might want to access.
Fear not. The Louisiana Family Forum (LFF) and state Rep. Mike Johnson, R-Bossier City, are fighting to make sure that our state-issued driver's licenses won't convey any "private" information to the mind-control crowd at the National Security Agency.
Feel safer yet?
If so, don't make any major travel plans after September 2020. Instead, thanks to an amendment that Johnson convinced his colleagues to tack onto a rational REAL ID bill by state Rep. Jimmy Harris, D-New Orleans, you'll have to pay extra for a separate state card if you want to comply with REAL ID — or show a federally issued passport in order to board domestic flights.
Such madness is not cheap. If Johnson and the LFF have their way, citizens will have to pay extra to get a separate, REAL ID-compliant state identification, and the state may also have to spend more to set up a separate database for compliant IDs.
Harris was visibly frustrated after the House adopted Johnson's amendment last week. He voted for his weakened bill just to get it over to the Senate, where the amendment no doubt will be stripped from the bill. That's hardly a victory for those of us who prefer to use tinfoil on our grills rather than on our heads, unless the House has a lucid interval in the coming weeks.
The Senate last month passed its own REAL ID measure. It would allow residents to carry just one card instead of two in order to comply with REAL ID. That bill awaits action in a House committee.
If the House doesn't get real about REAL ID, come late 2020 you will no longer be free to move about the country.