Will the Real ID conference committee pass a neutral bill?

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It’s coming down to crunch time. Starting January 2018, Minnesotans will need Real ID licenses to get on an aircraft, otherwise they’ll need to show a passport to board. Real ID-compliant driver’s licenses are already required to gain access to certain federal facilities, military bases, and nuclear power plants.

Both the House and the Senate have passed their versions of the Real ID bill and the joint conference committee is working on what path Minnesota will take to comply with the federal rules.

Thanks to the Senate DFL, the Senate bill does not contain unnecessary and duplicative language regarding non-compliant licenses for undocumented immigrants. In contrast, the House bill requires applicants to demonstrate lawful status even to obtain a non-compliant license. This language is unnecessary to implement Real ID. Undocumented immigrants are already unable to receive driver’s licenses in Minnesota due to a 2003 administrative rule.

The intent and the direction of the Senate is to send a neutral bill to the Governor and not mix immigration and the issuance of Real ID together. Hopefully, House Republicans are beginning to realize that Real ID will fail if they don’t compromise and take out the politically charged language that has nothing to do with compliance.

With only three weeks left in the legislative session, Senate DFLers remain hopeful negotiators will compromise and the Real ID bill signed into law will not include unnecessary restrictions against undocumented immigrants receiving driver’s licenses. (SF 166HF 3)