Minnesota Senate Committee Passes Real ID Bill

January 31, 2017 07:43 PM

The legislature has less than a year to make Minnesota drivers licenses Real ID compliant. But some in the House of Representatives want to address immigration in the same bill that focuses on Real ID compliance. Good idea or should the two be kept separate.  Let your lawmakers know!

The Minnesota Senate passed a REAL ID bill similar to a bill passed by the House with one major exception. The Senate bill doesn't attempt to mix creation of REAL ID driver's licenses with the immigrant driver's license issue.


"This is not a bill regarding drivers licenses for folks who are here illegally," said Sen. Scott Newman, (R) Hutchinson, chairman of the Senate Transportation Finance and Policy Committee. "This is a bill that has to do with REAL ID."

REAL ID driver's licenses will be required for Minnesotans to board commercial aircraft beginning January 22, 2018. The licenses with extra security features are mandated by the federal government as a result of safety enhancements recommended after the 9/11 attacks.

A House bill that passed last week creates a two-tier license system. One would be an enhanced license that complies with the federal REAL ID law. The other would be a "non-compliant" license similar to what Minnesotans now carry. This would require people to give less personal information to the federal government. However, those people would need a passport or other form of ID approved by the federal government to board a plane.

The House bill also contains a clause that would require anyone applying for a driver's license to provide evidence of their "lawful status" as a U.S. citizen. There's already an "administrative law" that denies driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants. The House bill would put it in state law.

The Senate author says he knows that's controversial and could delay passage of a REAL ID bill. "The intent and the direction of this (Senate) bill is in fact to send a clean bill to the governor, to not mix immigration and the issuance of REAL ID together," says Sen. Eric Pratt, (R) Prior Lake.

Meanwhile, several members of the travel industry urged lawmakers to pass a REAL ID bill soon. They say it's impacting everything from attracting new airlines to Minnesota to causing Minnesotans to put off travel plans.

"We're already coaching our customers about what to do in January 2018," says Gloria Stock Mickelson, a travel agent representing more than 300 other travel agencies, who urged quick action. "It will make our lives a whole lot easier and make our Minnesota citizens able to travel next year."


Tom Hauser

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