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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Eric Lucero (R)

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Rep. Eric Lucero (30B) - Legislative Update

Thursday, November 19, 2015

 

Dear Neighbor,

Thanksgiving is fast approaching as we look forward to spending time with family and friends and consider the blessings of living in this great country. I am especially thankful to serve the great people of my community as State Representative.

REAL ID

In 2005, Congress enacted the REAL ID Act under the auspices of increasing security standards for the issuance of state driver’s licenses and identification cards. In 2009, by a unanimous vote, the Minnesota House passed a law prohibiting the Minnesota Department of Public Safety from implementing the Real ID Act due to privacy concerns and concerns for potential expanded use of REAL ID by a future President / Department of Homeland Security Secretary. One privacy-concern example is the collection and retention of private information and documents into a central, statewide database. This is a giant change from the current process because said private information and source documents for this purpose are not currently collected or retained into a central database at the state level.

Many other states initially joined Minnesota in their reaction to REAL ID by not implementing it. However, as a means of bullying states into compliance, the Obama Administration used the club of the Federal Government to threaten states by asserting citizens from non-compliant states will be prohibited from boarding commercial airlines for domestic flights and will be prohibited from entering federal buildings and nuclear power plants without a REAL ID. As such, other states submitted to the bullying nature of the Federal Government once again violating 10th Amendment States Rights.

While I have great concern with the privacy intrusions of REAL ID as I mentioned above, I have an even greater concern regarding language in the REAL ID Act, which explicitly states REAL ID shall be required not only for boarding aircraft and gaining access to federal buildings, but also for "any other purposes that the Secretary [of Homeland Security] shall determine." One potential expanded use example in the future could be REAL ID being required for the purchase of firearms or ammunition.

If Real ID is implemented in Minnesota, the language "any other purposes" is sufficiently vague thereby allowing the Federal Government to expand the use of Real ID at any point in the future without further check, balance, or consent by the Minnesota Legislature.

A final note and summary on this topic: Currently, a standard Minnesota driver’s license or ID card does not meet the REAL ID requirements. However, Minnesota currently has in place and issues what is called an Enhanced Driver’s License (EDL) and Enhanced Identification Card (EIC) to Minnesota citizens who voluntarily elect this option. Minnesota EDL/EIC cards already are available and were developed as part of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative to facilitate citizens in border states to travel between the U.S., Canada, and Mexico without the need to acquire a U.S. passport. EDLs/EICs cost an additional $15. The EDL/EIC cards require additional levels of identification that provide proof of U.S. citizenship and are available only at the state driver’s license exam stations. The Department of Homeland Security indicates both Minnesota EDLs and EICs indeed meet the REAL ID requirements for boarding domestic flights.

In the meantime, regardless of the state Legislature's action and/or Homeland Security's response to a request that has been filed by both Gov. Mark Dayton and Speaker Kurt Daudt for an extension, Minnesota's EDLs/EISs will work even if the Federal Government were to begin enforcing REAL ID in the future.

Information on obtaining enhanced state IDs is at this link.

Syrian Refugees

Many people have contacted me expressing concern regarding President Obama resettling Syrian refugees in Minnesota. I am equally concerned at the lack of screening and the high potential terrorists may take advantage of our refugee program to gain entry to our country and state. I am opposed to President Obama placing us at risk and I find it very disturbing Gov. Dayton is not taking this threat more seriously. The Refugee Act of 1980 and the Supreme Court’s ruling in Hines v. Davidowitz unfortunately gave the Federal Government broad authority in this matter while also limiting the ability of the state to accept or reject refugees. Nevertheless, my colleague Representatives and I are exploring options available to us for legislative action and to assist Gov. Dayton in understanding the security implications of his non-action. In the meantime, I encourage you to share your thoughts with Congressman Tom Emmer as well as Sens. Franken and Klobuchar.

MNsure

In an announcement by the Minnesota Department of Commerce last month we learned the cost of health insurance in Minnesota will increase by an average of 41 percent next year for 300,000 individuals and families who purchase health insurance on their own. In my recent door knocking all around our community, numerous residents have explained to me they are among those negatively impacted by the increased costs. Skyrocketing costs are not what Democrats promised when Democrats single handedly thrust the burden of Obamacare/MNsure upon us. Gov. Dayton and the Democrats refuse to admit their central planning and limiting choice resulted in hardship and devastation to hard working Minnesota families and businesses all across our state.

It is clear to everyone government entanglement in healthcare has resulted in surging costs and frustratingly poor quality service. It is time Democrats admit Obamacare/MNsure are hurting our state and significant reform is needed to introduce free market competition, reduce government regulation, and empower people to have true choice in their own health care decisions.

Teacher Licensure

As a member of the Education Innovation Policy Committee, I was part of a joint hearing two weeks ago with members of the Education Finance Committees to discuss the Board of Teaching's delay in streamlining teacher licensure laws.

The Board of Teaching is not on track to meet its Jan. 1, 2016 deadline for new licensure rules. At the hearing, Board of Teaching Executive Director Erin Doan claimed the delay was not intentional. The Star Tribune described the delay as "bureaucratic confusion." We heard testimony from teachers frustrated by the complex process resulting in qualified teachers unable to receive their Minnesota license and we also heard testimony from district officials who urged action to help combat the state's teacher shortage.

Other Activities

In the last several weeks my other activities included meeting with a group a Minneapolis activists opposed to Southwest Light Rail in my role as a member of the Transportation Committee and I am part of an ongoing legislative workgroup meeting to discuss future legislation regarding state policy around police body cameras. Tomorrow morning I join Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer and Rep. Nick Zerwas at a Chamber of Commerce forum in Elk River to discuss top business issues for the 2016 legislative session.

As always, please do not hesitate to contact me with any issue or concern I may be able to assist you with.

I wish you and your family a wonderful Thanksgiving next week!

Sincerely,

Eric Lucero
State Representative
District 30B
Albertville, Hanover, Otsego, Saint Michael, and the Wright County portion of Dayton

 

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