ST. PAUL, Minn – State Senator David Tomassoni (DFL-Chisholm) 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 on a bipartisan 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 offered several amendments for a clean bill 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.
“Today’s vote may have sent a message about how important a clean bill is to everyone, but by failing to put up enough votes to pass REAL ID we may have to go back to the drawing board. I have made it clear that I want all Minnesotans to be able to travel freely – in order for this to become law we must pass a clean REAL ID bill that does not include unnecessary, controversial language. The bi-partisan disapproval of the bill shows REAL ID has a ways to go, and an agreement on the language will have to be the next step,” said Sen. Tomassoni.
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.