Sen. Foung Hawj votes for a clean REAL ID bill
ST. PAUL, Minn – State Senator Foung Hawj (DFL-St. Paul) voted today for clean REAL ID language that would allow Minnesotans to board flights and visit their loved ones on military bases without bringing in unrelated and controversial issues. Unfortunately, Senate Republicans chose to vote down an opportunity for a clean bill and put forward a proposal that the majority of senators voted against. The Republican REAL ID proposal failed to pass by a vote of 29 to 38.
“We must pass a clean REAL ID bill that does not include unnecessary, controversial language. Today, the bill failed to get enough votes to pass,” Sen. Hawj said. “Minnesotans expect better; my fellow Democrats and I are extremely disappointed that members of the other aisle chose to hold hostage a critical bill over unnecessary issues.”
The bill would allow the Department of Public Safety to make technical changes in Minnesota’s statutes and licenses that would ensure Minnesota driver’s licenses to continue to be an acceptable form of identification for air travel. REAL ID compliant licenses are already required to gain access to certain federal facilities such as military bases and nuclear plants, and early next year they will be needed to board airplanes – even for domestic flights. Unless the 2017 legislature acts to allow the Department of Public Safety begin issuing REAL IDs, Minnesotans will not be able to board a commercial airplane beginning January 22, 2018, without presenting additional, federally authorized proof of identity, such as a U.S. passport. Minnesota is one of only three states that has not changed its licenses to comply with the federal requirements.
This bill is the last step Minnesota needs to take to come into compliance with federally mandated REAL ID standards. Many Minnesotans are waiting to find out how they will best be able to proceed with air travel as the deadline for compliance approaches.
Senator Hawj is available to discuss this bill and can be reached at (651) 296-5285 or at Sen.Foung.Hawj@senate.mn.