State House Debates When to Implement REAL ID

April 16, 2016 12:35 PM

The state House of Representatives received a report Friday to begin planning for REAL ID-compliant driver's licenses.

The question before lawmakers is: implement now or later?


The Department of Public safety began preparing the report after March 31, when a 2009 law banning the legislature from planning the implementation of the new licenses was lifted. Some of the urgency behind the report and planning is the Jan. 22, 2018, federal deadline that would forbid Minnesotans from boarding domestic flights without alternative forms of ID. Though the Dayton administration filed for a federal extension of the deadline, it is uncertain whether it will be granted, according to Minnesota Department of Public Safety Commissioner Ramona Dohman. 

Implementation as early as fall of 2016 is possible, but would be expensive, according to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety. It would cost $4.3 million to $5.1 million if the legislature were to implement the new licenses by October 2016. Under that plan, the costs include a $2 million budget for computer programming costs, $300 per agent for training and about $20 per agent for background checks required by the federal mandate. 

However, if the state were to wait until 2018, implementation would only cost $16,000 to $30,000 per year. This is because of an overhaul now underway of the Driver and Vehicle Services' old mainframe information system. The overhaul will result in a new program called the Minnesota Licensing and Registration System (MNLARS). By waiting until 2018 and implementing it only through MNLARS, costs would be reduced. Otherwise, the state would have to spend $2 million on programming for the current system and later have the cost of moving to the new system. 

The Department of Public Safety will present these plans and information before the state Senate Monday.


Gabriel Sanchez

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