The prospect of Louisianans having to produce a passport to get on a domestic flight or enter a federal building made news again last week when U.S. Sen. David Vitter and U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, along with four of the state's six U.S. representatives, sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) asking for more time to comply with the federal REAL ID Act.
Real ID, which was passed by Congress 10 years ago and signed into law by then-President George W. Bush, calls for state identification papers, such as drivers' licenses, to include new security paper and be part of a federal database. Such new IDs will be required to board commercial airlines.
The Louisiana Legislature rejected the mandated change in 2008 but later passed compromise legislation that would allow state residents to choose either a Real ID or traditional driver's license. Gov. Bobby Jindal vetoed the measure in 2014, saying it amounted to "unnecessary federal oversight."
"Louisiana is taking all the necessary steps to comply with new Real ID standards," wrote U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany, "but law enforcement officials in the state say we need a little more time."
The deadline for compliance was Oct. 10, and DHS — while not issuing a firm date — has said it expects to enforce Real ID provisions sometime in 2016.