- Associated Press - Monday, May 30, 2016

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Louisiana’s drivers should get to choose whether they want a driver’s license that complies with the federal REAL ID security law, state lawmakers have decided.

With a 28-9 vote Monday and little discussion, the Senate gave final legislative passage to a bill by Sen. Yvonne Dorsey Colomb, D-Baton Rouge, that lets a driver decide between a license that meets the federal act requirements or one that does not.

The measure goes to Gov. John Bel Edwards, who pushed the bill as part of his legislative package and intends to sign it into law. The same provisions will apply to state-issued identification cards, giving people a choice between the two varieties.

Propelling the debate was worry that Louisiana residents without a REAL ID-compliant license could need a passport or other federally approved identification to board domestic flights or enter federal buildings within a few years.

Privacy concerns have been repeatedly raised by conservative groups, however, about the data collection required to comply. In 2014, Edwards’ Republican predecessor, Bobby Jindal, vetoed a bill allowing for REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses because of data-sharing worries.

Congress passed the REAL ID Act to create national identification standards after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. More than 20 states meet the requirements, and most others like Louisiana have received temporary extensions, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Louisiana’s lawmakers enacted a ban in 2008 on meeting the federal requirements. Since then, many of the most heavily criticized security features have been dropped.

Leaders of the Office of Motor Vehicles say to comply with the federal law Louisiana needs to scan into a database and store the birth certificates, passports or other documents used to verify a person’s identity. When drivers opt out of a REAL ID-compliant license, the agency will be barred from copying or scanning into a database any of those documents.

The measure also prohibits the motor vehicles agency from sharing any facial biometric data that might be obtained for a driver’s license with other states or government agencies without a warrant or court order.

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Senate Bill 227: www.legis.la.gov

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