MN flying may get more difficult

Daily Editorial Board

Citizens of four states, including Minnesota, may soon need passports to board domestic flights rather than driver’s licenses. 
 
Provisions of the Real ID Act — a federal act passed in 2005 with the intent to synchronize minimum identification requirements to fight terrorism and fraud — will go into effect as early as 2016 for federally regulated commercial airlines. Because Minnesota state ID requirements don’t meet the standards outlined in the act, Minnesotans may soon need to use passports to fly.
 
In 2009, former Gov. Tim Pawlenty signed a law preventing the Real ID Act from being instated in Minnesota. Now, Gov. Mark Dayton believes that the state must repeal that law in order to prevent state-issued licenses from being deemed obsolete. 
 
While we recognize the importance of states’ rights in decisions affecting the safety of their citizens, the 2009 law was clearly a mistake that could prove costly for Minnesotans in the long-run. 
 
At least part of the original intention of the countermeasure against the Real ID Act was to defend against misguided fears. Some people claimed a federal database would track citizens through their new IDs, while others balked at the projected costs of implementation. Both fears have now been thoroughly debunked. 
 
Because only about 37 percent of Americans own a passport — and merely 7,048 Minnesotans have upgraded their driver’s licenses to the “enhanced” version that is in compliance with federal regulations — we urge the state Legislature to repeal the 2009 law in the next legislative session and buy Minnesotans enough time to adjust to the new regulations.