Driver’s license bill clears Senate panel

Legislation that would allow Louisiana residents to get driver’s licenses compliant with the federal REAL ID Act is moving ahead at the state Capitol.

The state Senate Transportation, Highways and Public Works Committee approved House Bill 907 on Thursday.

REAL ID opponents worry that it sets up a path for government intrusion. They question the intent and goals of the program. Congress adopted REAL ID following the 9/11 Commission.

State Rep. Karen St. Germain, D-Plaquemine, said she wanted to give Louisiana residents an option. “Louisiana at least cares about its citizens enough to do that,” she said.

HB907, which the House approved in a 79-22 vote last month, would still allow Louisiana residents to get driver’s licenses that don’t meet all of the federal standards. It now goes to the full Senate for a vote.

The REAL ID Act creates minimum security standards for licenses that include the scanning and retention of some personal documents, such as birth certificates. Driver’s licenses from states that don’t implement REAL ID may not be accepted for boarding planes in the future, though that provision has been delayed.

“This is about boarding a plane and boarding a train,” said Louisiana State Police Superintendent Col. Mike Edmonson said during Thursday’s hearing. He testified in favor of the legislation.

Sandra McDade of the Eagle Forum spoke against the legislation, because she said it would take control of driver’s licenses away from the state.

“If you pass the Real ID, you are making a covenant or an agreement with the federal government,” McDade said.

Follow Elizabeth Crisp on Twitter @elizabethcrisp. For more coverage of Louisiana Legislature government, follow our Politics blog at http://blogs.theadvocate.com/politicsblog .