The point of Thursday morning's legislative working session was to discuss ways Minnesota can move forward and meet federal ID standards.
The end result is a few ideas, no agreed upon concrete plan – but some optimism from the meeting's leaders.
What lawmakers are trying to do is get the state's IDs (so driver's licenses, for example) compliant with what's called Real ID – a set of standards passed by the federal government 10 years ago to help increase security.
Minnesota's IDs don't meet those requirements, which could affect whether they can be used to get on commercial airline flights in the near future. Currently, they can't be used to get into certain federal facilities.
But to get the state compliant, lawmakers need to undo a 2009 rule that said the state legally cannot comply, a bill passed over privacy concerns.
So that's what the working group talked about – what steps need to be taken to repeal that old law, then get Minnesota compliant.
Rep. Peggy Scott, a Republican from Andover, said the focus should be on step one, which is repealing the old law that's currently getting in the way of taking other actions, the Session Daily reports.
To do that, she says a special session – which Gov. Mark Dayton said he wants to have, with a decision by Friday – is not necessary.
"Are we prepared for a special session? I don't know," Scott said toward the end of the meeting, adding she'll take the information from Thursday back to her members to decide if they can move forward.
Sen. Scott Dibble, a DFLer from Minneapolis, is one of the Demcrats arguing that since there is something of a time crunch, a special session should be called to pass a bill repealing the old law, so they can move forward quickly from there on out, the Session Daily writes.
"I know the governor is looking for some sort of decision to be made tomorrow," Dibble said in his closing remarks. "Unless I hear differently from those gathered around the table, it feels like we could get there fairly easily on this subject."
Also considered: How to pay for the upgrades, as well as the new, enhanced licenses; and whether there should be an option that allows Minnesotans to opt out of a compliant driver's license, and instead get one that doesn't comply with the federal Real ID standards and deal with its limitations.
- Here's a draft proposal from the GOP-controlled House.
- One from the DFL-controlled Senate.
- And one from Rep. Erik Hansen, a DFLer from South St. Paul.
There's some politicking going on that the special session – and because of that, the Real ID compliance – is getting caught up in.
Dayton, a DFLer, and Republican Speaker of the House Kurt Daudt (of Crown) spent much of Wednesday pointing fingers – with the governor claiming Republicans are dragging their feet, while Daudt accused Dayton of not providing a specific plan for anything.
Dayton has said he wants to know by Friday whether lawmakers will hold a special session (before the regular session starts in March).
Here's some reaction from state lawmakers.