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December 29, 2015

Flying Somewhere This Spring? You May Need Your Passport

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Many complain about Washington's "do nothing" Congress—if only that had been the case in 2005! That was the year Congress passed the Real ID Act, which required that states issue driver's licenses, ID cards and other official ID documents whose information could be easily shared with other states and the federal government. Such information is to include the person's real legal name, signature, legal address, date of birth, gender, a photograph of the person and a unique identifying number for that person, and it must present that data in a common, machine-readable format such as bar codes, smart card technology, and other means, though RFID chips are not currently required. There's just one problem: At the moment, nine states and several U.S. territories aren't in compliance with that law, and the Department of Homeland Security has stated that it won't be giving out any more exemptions to compliance, so all of those non-compliant states/territories will need to get their "acts" together by January 10, 2016—and those that don't won't (at some point) have their IDs accepted by the TSA at airports (hence no flying) but more immediately won't be allowed to enter federal buildings or military bases. Yes, that's right: January 10; less than two weeks from today! And guess which state is one of the nine non-compliant ones? Right again: California! (The others are Alaska, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, South Carolina, and Washington. American Samoa, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands face the same deadline.) "The law was originally scheduled to go into effect in 2008 but was subject to repeated delays," noted Joe Mullin of ArsTechnica. "In recent months, DHS has been telling states those delays are over and that the law will be implemented in 2016. However, any restrictions on air travel won't go into place without at least 120 days' notice, and no state has received such a notice yet. In several states, however, restrictions on entering federal buildings could kick in as early as January 10. ... Those states facing the deadline shouldn't be hopeful for a last-minute reprieve." TechDirt put it another way: "Who Needs A No-Fly List When You Can Just Ground 91 Million Citizens?" read the headline of its story. So while the new upcoming restrictions probably won't affect your air travel to AEE, it remains to be seen if California and the other states/territories can get in compliance before people head off for spring break—or their next dance gig or out-of-state shoot.

 
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