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Working group wrangles over Real ID

By Jonathan Avise
The media and public listen to discussion during a well-attended meeting of the Legislative Working Group on Real ID Compliance Jan 7. Photo by Andrew VonBank
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A working group on how to get Minnesota into compliance with ID regulations handed down by the federal government continued the legislative wrangling Thursday over what needs to be done and how fast it can occur.

With the more stringent requirements expected to take effect this year — and Minnesota one of only two U.S. jurisdictions that has not been granted an extension in complying with the rules — the Legislative Working Group on Real ID Compliance met for the first time to explore ways to move Minnesota forward on meeting the higher-security ID regulations.

But the panel’s co-chairs, Rep. Peggy Scott (R-Andover) and Sen. D. Scott Dibble (DFL-Mpls), expressed different aims during meeting No. 1.

Rep. Peggy Scott

Scott, calling Real ID a top priority, said the group’s focus needs to be squarely on repealing the 2009 state law that prohibits state officials from laying the groundwork to meet the federal Real ID law requirements, and that a special session isn’t necessary before the regular session’s scheduled March 8 start date. Dibble and other DFLers argued that time is of the essence in solving the issue and have urged a special meeting of the Legislature to pass complying legislation.

“The first step is the repeal,” Scott said. “The second step is requesting that extension” from the Department of Homeland Security.

If the state does not come into compliance with the standards, Minnesotans could be unable to board a commercial domestic flight using only their state-issued non-enhanced IDs. That has led to concern and confusion among some would-be travelers, though the federal government has said it will give state officials at least 120 days’ notice before enhanced IDs are required to pass security for domestic flights.

Legislative Working Group on Real ID Compliance
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Unenhanced Minnesota IDs already can’t be used alone to enter certain federal facilities.

Despite the Department of Homeland Security’s promised 120-day buffer, Gov. Mark Dayton and House and Senate DFLers have continued their calls to pass the needed fixes.

“We could work on repeal but also solve the problem in an open, logical, reasonable manner rather than kick the can down the road,” said Rep. Rick Hansen (DFL-South St. Paul).

What is REAL ID?

The Department of Homeland Security put in place new, more stringent standards for state-issued IDs following the 2005 passage of the Real ID act, including stepped-up applicant documentation requirements, design and security standards on physical IDs and the use of national databases and shared electronic data access among states.

Minnesota was among more than two-dozen states that passed legislation in opposition to the new standards, with some preventing state officials from implementing the federal requirements.

Over the past year the Department of Homeland Security has begun rolling out scheduled enforcement of the Real ID requirements. Minnesota and American Samoa are the lone jurisdictions that have not been granted extensions to meet the new standards. 

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