This week in the House we passed bills regarding Sunday liquor sales, federal ID standards and replenishing state wetland banks.
Sunday off-sale legislation passed the House on a broad bipartisan 85-45 vote. The matter is now in the Senate’s hands. The governor has indicated he is likely to sign a Sunday off-sale bill if one reaches his desk.
I am pleased we finally passed a Real ID bill this week. It is now in the Senate for consideration. I co-authored H.F. 3, which requires that Minnesota offer Real ID-complaint driver’s licenses to those that desire to have an ID that will be accepted by TSA for boarding aircraft after January 2018.
By adopting the federal Real ID standards, we make it more difficult to create a fake Minnesota driver’s license. Real ID is a federal law passed in 2005 as a result of the terrorist attacks that occurred on 9/11.
It is no secret that I have been very impatient on this issue. It is frustrating that Minnesota is one of four states that has not yet effectively complied with the enhanced standards for driver’s licenses. While I disagree with many federal mandates, I support this one.
Making it more difficult to create a fake Minnesota driver’s license enhances public safety and is another protection against those that would harm us.
Another important item was $5 million in immediate funding to replenish our Local Road Wetland Replacement Program. State and federal law requires we replace wetlands lost due to road construction. This program provides wetland mitigation credits to our counties, cities and township at no charge if they must disturb wetlands when upgrading or repairing a local road. Without these credits many 2017 local road projects will be delayed or cancelled.
At the committee level, H.F. 502 received its first hearing this week. I am chief author of this bill which would direct the sales taxes we already pay on motor vehicle tires and repair parts to roads and bridges. The Transportation Finance Committee considered my bill favorably and referred it to the Tax Committee for further evaluation.
My goal is to increase funding for roads and bridges from surplus revenue we already collect. Stay tuned as this bill and many other bills move through the system.