Sen. Bobby Joe Champion Votes for a clean REAL ID bill

Saint Paul, MinnState Senator Bobby Joe Champion voted for a clean REAL ID bill yesterday that would have removed divisive and controversial language from the Senate Republican REAL ID legislation.

“Unfortunately, Senate Republicans rejected this common-sense attempt to improve and clean up the bill,” Sen. Champion said. “Instead, Senate Republicans put forward a controversial proposal that a majority of senators – both Democrats and Republicans — voted against.” The Republican REAL ID proposal failed by a vote of 29 to 38.

“The Republican majority has decided to politicize an important bill that Minnesota must pass to become compliant with federal REAL ID,” Champion said. “The DFL Senate gave Republicans an opportunity to support a good, clean bill that would have removed unnecessary language to bring Minnesota into federal compliance with REAL ID requirements and this bill would have passed off the floor today. But the amendment failed on a tie vote.”

“Our amendment simply removed unnecessary and controversial language that many felt would have completely shut the door for thousands of immigrants that live in Minnesota who are forced to drive without a legal license,” Champion said. “Instead of compromising to find common ground, the Senate Republican Majority put up their more political and controversial bill with the troubling language, and failed to put up enough votes to pass it.”

“As a long-time advocate and chief author for drivers’ licenses for all, I honestly wish this bill went further,” Champion said. “Instead of just removing troubling language, I wish we could finally provide a path for immigrant workers the opportunity to learn to drive, secure a legal driver’s license, and legally buy auto insurance — which would make our roads and streets safer.”

Background:

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  Champion is available to discuss this bill and can be reached at (651) 296-9246 or at sen.bobby.champion@senate.mn.

Senator Bobby Joe Champion
Bobby Joe Champion represents District 59, which includes portions of downtown and north Minneapolis in Hennepin County. He is also an attorney.

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