Greetings as we near the end of Week 4 of the 2016 legislative session. The biggest headline-maker this week was legislation we passed to repeal the state's prohibition on examining compliance with federal Real ID standards.
I voted for this bill because the state law barring researching and studying compliance with Real ID needs to come off the books in order for us to thoroughly investigate our options. Most people agree this needs to happen so we can take a closer look at the issue and decide what is best for Minnesota. Passing this bill doesn't mean we are committed to complying with Real ID, it just allows us to compile information to help us develop an appropriate course of action.
As our work continues, people are advised to proceed with travel plans. The Department of Homeland Security has announced that enforcement of new standards to fly in our country will take effect no sooner than Jan. 22, 2018. Extensions can be granted until October of 2020.
This is an important issue and we need to make sure all the important questions are answered. Concerns over how citizens' private data is collected and used need to be addressed. The bill we passed will help us dig into that subject and more.
Today marks the first legislative deadline for bills to have received initial committee hearings and remain alive in the process. The second deadline – for companion bills to be heard in the opposite body – is April 8.
We are working hard to meet these deadlines, including in the House's Higher Ed. Committee that I chair. Much of the discussion this week has centered on bills related to reducing the amount of debt students accumulate. A half-dozen or so bills have been presented to the committee and, while no formal action was taken, they remain under consideration.
In another committee meeting, Ag. Policy, District 8A resident/vegetable farmer Mark Boen testified this week. Mark encouraged more urban agriculture production and talked about his successful operation, Bluebird Gardens. He provided some good information and was well-received by the committee.