To help ensure safer roads for Minnesota, legislation was heard in the Transportation and Public Safety Committee on Thursday evening to reduce barriers for Minnesotans to get a valid driver’s license.
The bill changes the types of documents needed for people to use as a form of identification that is accepted to receive driver’s licenses. The bill allows Minnesota ID, provisional, and driver’s license applicants to:
- Use a valid unexpired passport from another country that shows a photo of the cardholder;
- A certified birth certificate that matches the passport;
- Both the unexpired passport and certified birth certificate must have security measures making it difficult to alter the document;
- Any foreign governmental identification document not in English must have an English translation
Additionally, the bill repeals the requirement of US citizenship, short-term admission to the US, and authorized presence status. The bill also removes the status check date which shows the lawful period someone is allowed to be in the country. It will no longer be needed to be shown on the driver’s license or ID, which would affect license and ID renewal.
An amendment was accepted to clarify that a “Driving Card” means a class D driver’s license, provisional license, instructional permit, motorcycle permit, and motorcycle instruction permit (which would not be eligible for voter registration). The card must be designed to say “FOR DRIVING ONLY” on the back, whereas a Minnesota ID card must say “FOR IDENTITY ONLY”. The bill also requires the Secretary of State to notify county auditors that these cards cannot be used for voter registration, and these auditors would inform election judges not to accept them.
According to the Department of Public Safety, the only changes this law would have is an applicant could now issue a driver’s license or ID with a valid unexpired passport and a certified birth certificate from another country. Any previous steps applicants would have to make to receive a card, remain in place.
The bill is very similar to a bill which passed the Senate in 2013; however, due to House inaction the legislation did not become law.
The bill was referred to the Committee on Rules. (S.F. 224)