Minnesota House Passes Real ID Bill

February 24, 2017 06:49 AM

The Minnesota House passed a bill that would enact a REAL ID law making state drivers licenses compliant with federal law.

However, the bill includes a controversial provision regarding illegal immigrants opposed by most Democrats.


"Unfortunately and perhaps tragically, this bill ... gets cluttered up with immigration issues that are totally unnecessary for us to have a REAL ID-compliant legislation," said Rep. Carlos Mariani, DFL-St. Paul.

RELATED: Minnesota Senate Committee Passes REAL ID Bill

The Republican author, Rep. Dennis Smith, R-Maple Grove, said the bill simply puts in state law what is already an administrative rule in Minnesota prohibiting "unlawful immigrants" from getting a drivers license. 

"This bill does not change (anything). If you can get a license today, you can get one once this bill becomes enacted," he said on the House floor. "If you cannot get a license today, you cannot get a license once this bill is enacted."

However, a Senate version of the bill does not include an immigration provision.

"The intent and the direction of (the Senate) bill is in fact to send a clean bill to the governor, to not mix immigration and the issuance of REAL ID together," Sen. Eric Pratt, R-Prior Lake, said at a hearing last week. The Senate bill has not come up for a floor vote yet.

House Republicans emphasize their bill would create a two-tier REAL ID law that will allow Minnesotans who want a federally-compliant driver's license to get one. If they don't want that license -- which requires giving more personal information to the federal government -- they can get a license similar to what they have now.

However, that license would not allow them to board commercial aircraft or enter military bases. If the House and Senate pass different bills, they'll have to reach a compromise before sending a bill to the governor.

Starting January 2018 Minnesotans will need the REAL ID licenses to get on aircraft, otherwise they'll need to show a passport to board.  

Gov. Mark Dayton has said he will not take a position on REAL ID until he sees a final bill.


Tom Hauser

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