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Enhanced driverís license created

Published (6/1/2010)
By Mike Cook
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A new law could make it easier and cheaper for people to drive into Canada for a weeklong fishing trip or for a couple that wants to cruise to the Bahamas.

Sponsored by Rep. Roger Reinert (DFL-Duluth) and Sen. Tom Saxhaug (DFL-Grand Rapids), the law will create enhanced state driverís licenses and state identification cards that have security features approved by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, including additional identifier technology to prove the holder is an American citizen. The cards will be acceptable for entry into the United States, and no personal information will be included in the tag embedded in the card, which is optional to attain.

Reinert said that federal legislation ó the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative ó requires a passport or other federally approved form of identification to prove oneís citizenship. The card will allow people to travel anywhere within the travel initiative.

According to the U.S. State Department, ďThe Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative is a result of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 (IRTPA), requiring all travelers to present a passport or other document that denotes identity and citizenship when entering the United States. Ö The goal of WHTI is to strengthen U.S. border security while facilitating entry for U.S. citizens and legitimate foreign visitors by providing standardized documentation that enables the Department of Homeland Security to quickly and reliably identify a traveler.Ē

Reinert said the cards carry the same privileges as current driverís licenses and state identification cards. It would cost $15, far less than a passport, which costs $100 and is expected to increase this summer.

Other states or Canadian provinces that have a similar card include: Michigan, New York, Washington, Vermont, British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec.

Those who depend on the economic activity of people going to and from Canada say travel is way down, said Rep. Morrie Lanning (R-Moorhead), adding that the card will allow people to cross the border at less cost.

Most of the bill takes effect June 1, 2012, for every enhanced driverís license and enhanced identification card issued beginning Jan. 1, 2013.

Effective May 14, 2010, the public safety commissioner is to enter into agreement with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to develop an enhanced state driverís license and identification card.

HF1005/ SF345*/CH316

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