Minnesota Senate Failure Hands Real ID Effort Big Setback

March 06, 2017 08:31 PM

Minnesota officials' efforts to upgrade driver's licenses so they pass muster for domestic flights have hit a snag.

The state Senate defeated a bill Monday to put Minnesota in compliance with the federal Real ID law. Democrats concerned about blocking driver's license access for immigrants illegally living in Minnesota united with several Republicans with privacy concerns who call the federal law an overreach to sink the bill.


"They have used a club to make states submit and the most common club they have used is the threat of taking airline travel privileges away from citizens," said Sen. Warren Limmer, R-Maple Grove, a longtime opponent of Real ID on concerns about Minnesotans having to turn over too much personal information to the federal government.

Rep. Melissa Franzen, DFL-Edina, said the bill would have unnecessarily-added language making it more difficult for undocumented immigrants to get driver's licenses in the future.

"This bill is supposed to be about compliance," she said on the Senate floor. "It became a bill about restricting individuals in our state."

The bill's author, Sen. Eric Pratt, R-Prior Lake, thought he had the votes to pass it, but saw five Republicans join all 33 Democrats in voting against it.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka said the path forward is not clear.

"We have to see what the public thinks about this, but they should be disappointed," he told reporters after the Senate vote. "This is something we need to get done. People want to fly next January and this will put a real damper on that if we don't get it done."

RELATED: Minnesota House Passes Real ID Bill

It's a setback as Minnesota races toward a January 2018 deadline for the new IDs to board domestic flights. Gazelka says it's possible the bill could be brought back for reconsideration. The House already passed a different REAL ID bill last month.

RELATED: Minnesota Senate Committee Passes Real ID Bill

The Associated Press contributed to this report


Tom Hauser

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