Minnesota's House and Senate are both edging closer to changing the state driver's license to comply with federal mandates.
But a bill the House passed Thursday evening has differences from one the Senate is considering. And those differences will need to be cleared up in order for a Minnesota license to be sufficient ID for boarding a plane next year.
At issue is giving a Minnesota driver's license the extra security features the feds require with what they call "Real ID."
What the House passed
The House's bill, which was passed by a vote of 72-58, would allow Minnesotans to choose either a driver's license that is compliant with federal Real ID standards and allow them to travel by commercial plane and enter federal facilities, or one that is noncompliant and would be stamped with "not for federal identification."
A deadline of Jan. 22, 2018 has been set for Minnesota to be Real ID compliant, and if that's not met state residents will need to bring their passport or enhanced driver's license with them to travel by air, even on domestic flights.
Minnesota is one of the few remaining states considered not to be complying with the Department of Homeland Security's ID standards, which were implemented in 2005 in response to the 9/11 attacks and require all states to meet certain conditions for their driver's licenses and ID cards.
Under the new standards, Minnesotans would have to supply more information proving their identity, residence in the state, citizenship/lawful status as well as their social security number in order to get the federal-compliant ID cards.
Currently to get a driver's license in Minnesota you just need to provide two documents in which at least one contains your name and date of birth. These documents are described here on the DVS website.
Multiple deadline extensions to comply with the federal rules have been granted to Minnesota amid a longstanding debate over whether to adopt the standards, with some lawmakers citing concerns about the government collecting too much information.
Will the bill be successful?
The Pioneer Press reports that the House's bill aims to have the new licenses available for order from Jan. 1, 2018.
However, a slightly different bill is currently going through the Senate, so it could require a compromise before a finished bill is sent to be signed by Governor Mark Dayton.
The main difference between the bills, KSTP reports, is that the House's would put into state law a currently "administrative law" that denies driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants.
The Senate's bill has left this out however, with the author Sen. Eric Pratt (R–Prior Lake) saying that the issues of immigration and Real ID shouldn't be mixed together.
After the House passed the bill with language explicitly denying driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants, Rep. Carlos Mariani, a St. Paul DFLer, complained in a statement that the Republican majority had "loaded their bill with anti-undocumented immigrant language" instead of passing a "clean" Real ID bill that the Senate and Governor would also get behind.
KSTP reports the House bill's author, Republican Dennis Smith of Maple Grove, said the measure only puts what is already an administrative rule into state law: "This bill does not change (anything). If you can get a license today, you can get one once this bill becomes enacted," Smith said.
There's been a wider debate about whether Minnesota should join the dozen-or-so states that allow immigrants in the country illegally to get driver's license, the Pioneer Press reported last year, with those in favor saying it would improve safety, while those against say it could lead to election fraud.
Gov. Dayton has previously said his administration doesn't plan to create licenses for undocumented immigrants, but he would sign such a bill if it were to land on his desk from the legislature.