Minnesota’s Real ID Bill Author Answers Questions about New Legislation

May 18, 2017 12:34 PM

With Real ID now on the books after a signing by Gov. Mark Dayton, Sen. Eric Pratt, R-Prior Lake, answers questions about the bill. Pratt is the bill's author.

RELATED: Dayton Signs Real ID Bill, Averting Travel Woes for 2018 


Q: Some people are unaware of Real ID, what is it?

A: "It's really simple. It's just: What are the types of documents that you present in order to get your driver's license? The federal government has defined certain documents like your birth certificate and your passport to do so. However, many states had other types of documents that they would accept for a driver's license. They don't really do as good a job of approving who you are as some of these others. This really enhances the ability for states to know that they have a true identity when they are issuing a license.

Q: Are Minnesotans required to get a Real ID?

A: "No. We have offered Minnesotans the ability to keep their current ID, and they can travel with a passport or they can get an enhanced ID that we already offer today that works almost like a passport card -- they can cross over the border to Canada to Mexico and those types of things. We have a lot of choices for Minnesotans."

Q: Will Real ID cost Minnesotans extra money?

A: “It won't. The Real ID will cost exactly the same amount as their current driver's licenses."

Q: Why are you passionate about the Real ID bill?

A: "I get a lot of emails on this issue. I had one from a mother who was trying to see her son on an infirmary on a military base and she was denied access because she didn't have the Real ID. They would not accept her Minnesota driver's license. I also got a letter from a gentleman who, a year prior, made a reservation to visit the White House. They would not let him in with his Minnesota driver's license unless he brought a passport. So, this is going to be a big help for Minnesotans to get on military bases, get into federal buildings, as well as continue to fly out Minneapolis-St. Paul."

RELATED: Legislature Reaches Deal on Real ID

Q: On Wednesday, the House and Senate passed a Real ID bill. What took so long?

A: "Well, there was a lot of controversy about how the Real ID Act was passed in 2005 and a lot of states put in prohibitions. Minnesota is a state that values its data privacy, so we spent most of our time really talking about the data privacy issues."

Q: A major point of controversy included language that would block undocumented immigrants from obtaining a new license. Is there still an issue in regard to that?

A: "That's gone. The Senate has always just wanted to have a clean Real ID bill to treat the two issues separately, and we are glad the House came along and saw it with us. It was important for both chambers to get it done. We had some great partners in the House to work with."

Q: The Real ID bill is now heading to Gov. Mark Dayton's desk. Why do lawmakers say he will more than likely sign it?

 A: "Well, we have a really good bill that we put in front of him. We have a clean bill that only deals with Real ID. We have been able to protect citizens’ privacy and in fact we are giving him a choice. A choice to take a Real ID, enhanced ID or stick with what they have today."

Q: If Dayton signs the bill what will this mean for Minnesotans and airport travelers?

A: "The first thing is we need to get a waiver from the Department of Homeland Security. Right now, Minnesotans will not be able to fly with their driver's license starting in January 2018. What we are hoping to do is by passing this law is that we will be able to extend that out to October 2020."


Cleo Greene

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