No solution in sight for the problems with Minnesota driver's licenses

There are 3 lines in the bill that Senate Democrats and Senate Republicans are arguing over.

We are 10 months away from Minnesotans not being able to use a driver's license to get through airport security.

And a proposal to address that ahead of time failed in the state Senate Monday, mainly because of disagreements over undocumented immigrants and driver's licenses.

You have probably heard the term "Real ID" by now – it's a set of standards for driver's licenses and IDs created by the federal government more than a decade ago. Almost every state has reworked its laws to get their IDs up to snuff.

Minnesota, however, dragged its feet for years over privacy concerns. One repercussion: right now, a Minnesota driver's license isn't sufficient to get someone into certain military facilities. And in January of 2018, it won't be acceptable ID for getting on domestic flights at the airport.

As one of the five states that hasn't gotten onboard, Minnesota lawmakers are facing a tight timeline to agree on a solution. The latest hurdle to get the state compliant: The Minnesota Senate voted against its version of a Real ID bill Monday.

The bill was rejected by a 39-28 vote – with licenses for undocumented immigrants and language around that issue the main sticking point.

Pointing fingers ... still

Both Democrats and Republicans are accusing each other of complicating the issue.

Right now, undocumented immigrants cannot get a Minnesota driver's license – you have to show proof of citizenship or legal residency.

Senate Democrats are accusing Senate Republicans of including language in the Real ID bill that would prevent any changes being made to identification requirements for getting a driver's license. To get specific, it's these lines:

So for example, this would apparently prevent Gov. Mark Dayton from creating a new license for undocumented immigrants, something he told the Pioneer Press last week he wants to do.

Sen. Scott Dibble, a Democrat, offered an amendment that would have gotten rid of those sentences, but it was rejected.

His fellow DFLers havetakentoTwitter, accusing the Republicans of not offering a "clean" bill that focuses strictly on Real ID. Here's one example.

Republicans are, naturally, pushing back.

The Minnesota Senate GOP argues the Real ID bill doesn't make any changes to current law, and called the DFL complaints a "phony issue."

Sen. Eric Pratt meanwhile argued the Democrats' amendments just opened up loopholes, the communications director tweeted.

And here's Paul Gazelka, the top Republican in the Senate.

A few Republicans had other concerns

Now you might be wondering – Republicans have a 34-33 majority in the Senate, so if they had full party support, couldn't the bill have passed?

The Star Tribune reports a few GOP lawmakers split from their party because of concerns about privacy.

Those Republicans, combined with every DFL senator voting against the Real ID bill, sunk it. The Pioneer Press has a great breakdown of who voted for and against the bill.

So what happens now?

Remember, the House and Senate have to pass an identical bill – then the governor has to sign it – for something to become law.

The Senate voting down this Real ID bill Monday means they'll have to rework it and hold another vote if they want something to get done.

A couple weeks ago, the House passed its version of a Real ID bill, with mostly Republicans voting for it, and mostly Democrats voting against it. It included language that makes Minnesota's current policy of not issuing driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants into law – despite some DFL lawmakers' attempts to strip that from the bill.

Next Up