Sen. Susan Kent maintains a path for clean REAL ID passage later in session
ST. PAUL, Minn – State Senator Susan Kent (DFL-Woodbury) voted Monday 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.
DFL Senators have been asking for a clean REAL ID bill since the first REAL ID compliance bill passed in 2016. The DFL Senate gave Republicans an opportunity to vote for a clean bill with several important amendments that would have removed controversial and unnecessary language not needed in order to bring Minnesota into federal compliance with REAL ID requirements. Senate Republicans opposed these amendments, preferring to keep language that is not needed for implementing REAL ID.
“Passing a clean REAL ID bill is very important to me. That’s why I’m so disappointed the Senate Republican Majority failed to put up enough votes to pass REAL ID, putting in jeopardy the ease of travel for Minnesotans. Because the bill failed, this gives legislators an opportunity to reassess the bill language, and hopefully make some small changes to clean it up, before bringing it back for another vote. There is still a path for passing this legislation and ensuring ease of travel for all Minnesotans,” said Sen. Kent.
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.