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REAL ID Act vetoed again

Published (5/30/2008)
By Mike Cook
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Legislators are stubborn when it comes to voicing opposition to the federal REAL ID Act, and Gov. Tim Pawlenty remains somewhat committed to the plan.

Pawlenty vetoed a bill that would prohibit the public safety commissioner “from taking any action to implement or to plan for the implementation by this state of those sections of Public Law 109-13 known as the Real ID Act.”

In an effort to compromise, the governor issued an executive order one day later that would prevent state compliance before June 1, 2009, unless legislative approval is first given.

“Throughout the debate over REAL I.D. I’ve made it clear I share many of the concerns raised regarding federal funding, privacy, state control and other issues. Opponents have also raised important constitutional questions that should be considered,” Pawlenty said. “This will give us an opportunity to work with our federal partners and state legislators to resolve the valid concerns regarding this program.”

A recommendation by the 9/11 Commission, the act’s goal is to create uniform standards for documents such as driver’s licenses and state identification cards, making them harder to forge, and thereby reducing identity fraud and tightening immigration standards. Opponents called it an unfunded mandate that would cost the state an estimated $31.4 million over three years; questioned the security associated with the plan; and expressed concern about data privacy issues.

“I am committed to work to ensure those concerns are addressed,” Pawlenty wrote in his veto message. “At the same time, I hope legislators share my interest in protecting Minnesotans, enhancing homeland security, combating illegal immigration, and reducing identity fraud. Working with the federal government to resolve these issues would be a better strategy than enacting an outright ban on Minnesota’s participation in this program at this time.”

Without federal compliance, Pawlenty warned that by the end of 2009, Minnesotans would be unable to use their driver’s license or state identification card for air travel or to enter federal buildings.

Rep. Carlos Mariani (DFL-St. Paul) and Sen. Mee Moua (DFL-St. Paul) are the sponsors.


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