Posted: Oct 24, 2012 6:14 PM by Erin Steuber
Updated: Oct 24, 2012 6:27 PM
If you're a frequent-flier, come January all Louisiana residents could be required to have a passport when boarding a plane, no matter the destination. It all has to do with a federal law, called the Real ID Act. It was signed into law back in 2005 in the wake of the September 11th terror attacks. It requires states to have enhanced driver's licenses and state ID's to boost security at airports. Louisiana has been able to get around the law since 2005, but that might be coming to an end.
There's now a new deadline for states to comply, and it's coming up very soon on January 15th. Louisiana is one of a handful of states, which currently does not meet the requirements of the Real ID Act. The state's been able to get around it thanks to a law signed in 2008 by Governor Bobby Jindal. But now, the state may be forced to comply with the new deadline. As it stands right now, come January 15th, Louisiana residents would be required to have a passport, should they want to fly, even for domestic travel.
"It is a multi-million dollar change, revision to our system to do that," said DMV Commissioner Stephen Campbell. "That system won't be fully operational until October 2013. So with the progress that we've made, the things we're doing and will have done later on next year, we're hopeful that Homeland Security will continue to allow the Louisiana document to satisfy those requirements."
So, if Homeland Security decides to stick to their deadline, the big question is, how will this affect the travel industry in Louisiana?
"People have to travel for business, and pleasure, but certainly if people find out on January 14th that they can't use their driver's license, and have not prepared by getting another ID, that's going to create a problem," said Robbie Bush, owner of Associated Travel Group.
The Department of Homeland Security issued this statement:
"As of January 15, 2013, if presented with a state-issued driver's license or identification card, federal agencies can only accept driver's licenses or identification cards for official purposes from states that have been found by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to be in compliance with the minimum standards established by REAL ID. Official purposes, as defined in statute and regulation, are accessing a Federal facility, boarding federally-regulated commercial aircraft, and entering nuclear power plants.
DHS strongly encourages states to submit information certifying their progress or as much information as possible to aid DHS in making a determination about compliance. Based on that submission, DHS retains authority to provide extensions on a case-by-case basis if circumstances warrant."
We reached out to Governor Jindal's office, who did not return our repeated phone calls.