REAL ID finally a done deal in Minnesota

Minnesota lawmakers have reached a deal to get the state in compliance with the federal REAL ID law.  The compromise bill passed the House on a 120-11 vote late Wednesday afternoon, then passed the Senate on a 57-8 vote.

Thursday morning, Gov. Mark Dayton signed the bill, making Minnesota the last state in the nation to become REAL ID compliant.

"I am very pleased that the Legislature has finally passed this critical bipartisan measure, which will allow Minnesotans to continue to board airplanes, and access federal facilities, with a compliant driver’s license," the governor said in a statement.

This has taken two years of fighting about state's rights, privacy and driver’s licenses for undocumented workers to reach this deal, but the House and Senate have now passed the compromise bill and Gov. Mark Dayton is expected to sign it.

The House's chief author, Rep. Dennis Smith (R-Maple Grove), says the deal will allow Minnesotans to board planes and get access to military bases.

“That is very burdensome to many families who want to see a loved one at a military base and are traveling for work to go to a federal building,” Rep. Smith said. “With us being compliant with the REAL ID they will have access to those buildings now even though REAL IDs won't be issued for about another year."

The deal creates two licenses: A non-compliant license for those not wanting to share information with the federal government, and a fully-compliant license. The state will start issuing the licenses on renewal dates starting next summer.

"So when you apply or reapply for your license on your expiration or if you want to go in once they are available, you will have that option to renew on the normal time frame or earlier if you so choose," Smith said.

REAL ID licenses will cost the same to renew as a regular license, but the real price is peace of mind.
“What Minnesotans need to know is that once the governor signs this bill that they are going to be able to fly come January of 2018 without an hindrance," Smith said. "They are going to be able to have access today to military facilities and government buildings and power plants today and we are moving forward and we're getting things done in this legislature." 

Part of what held REAL ID up all session was language put into the bill that would that make it state law not to grant drivers licenses to undocumented workers. That language was stripped and instead put into the public safety bill. That bill was vetoed by the governor on Monday night.