Extension granted for Real ID in Minnesota

State lawmakers still have not complied with the Real ID federal law.

Kevin Beckman

Minnesotans hoping to board a commercial airliner in the near future can still do so, but the struggle to bring the state into compliance with the federal REAL ID Act is ongoing.
The Department of Homeland Security announced last Friday that all noncompliant states that hadn’t been granted an extension now have until Jan. 22, 2018, to comply with the federal law that would ban travel on commercial airliners for anyone who does not have an enhanced, federally approved drivers license or identification card.
But if Minnesota shows progress on REAL ID compliance this legislative session, the federal government may grant the state’s residents an extension until 2020.
“We’re heading down the road to compliance,” said Rep. Peggy Scott, R-Andover, who is co-chair of the legislative Working Group on REAL ID Compliance.
If not yet compliant, Minnesotans who want to board a domestic flight will have to present an additional form of identification at the airport, such as a U.S. passport or a military ID. 
In fact, the MinnesotaLlegislature passed a law in 2009 that prohibited the Minnesota Department of Public Safety from even exploring what steps the state can take to become compliant, citing concerns about cost and data privacy. The bill passed unanimously in the Minnesota House with only one opposing vote in the Senate. 
Rep. John Petersburg, R-Waseca, vice chair of the House Transportation Policy and Finance Committee, said the primary reason for the prohibition was concerns over privacy. 
“It wasn’t clear how much personal data would be compiled in one place,” he said. 
Scott said that legislation is currently under review that would lift the ban on the state public safety department exploring solutions to the issue. 
Scott set a goal of a repeal of the prohibition within the first week of this year’s legislative session, which begins in March.
If the 2009 ban is repealed, the department could then explore the steps necessary to become compliant, start planning the necessary upgrades to Minnesota drivers licenses and submit a report back to the Legislature. 
Sen. Scott Dibble, DFL-Minneapolis, chair of the Senate Transportation and Public Safety Committee, said that repealing the ban is a fairly straightforward process. Dibble, however, said the planning and research elements involved in becoming REAL ID compliant are less so.
Minnesota meets most of the requirements for REAL ID-compliant drivers licenses but must make a few fixes. These include, among other changes, beginning to verify Social Security numbers and proof of residence and including a new, federally approved mark on licenses. 
In addition to security measures in the licenses themselves, REAL ID also mandates security protocols in place for the production, manufacturing and data storage for identification, Dibble said.