Feds reject Minn.’s request for a Real ID extension again

Published 9:58 am Tuesday, May 17, 2016

By Rachel E. Stassen-Berger

St. Paul Pioneer Press

ST. PAUL — Minnesota has still not done enough work to merit an extension on complying with the federal Real ID driver’s license standards, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

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In a letter last week, released on Monday, Homeland Security officials acknowledged that the state lifted its ban on planning for the federal standards but noted that it still bans implementation of the standards.

Until Minnesota demonstrated that it has the legal authority to implement the requirements of the Real ID Act and commits to full compliance, DHS is unable to grant a request for extension, the Homeland Security assistant secretaries wrote.

The Minnesota Legislature is working this year to comply with the long-resisted Real ID standards. But, once the federal government threatened that come 2018 Minnesotans could no longer use their driver’s licenses to get through airport security and for other federal purposes, state lawmakers’ resistance wore away.

Earlier this year, the state repealed its ban on planning for Real ID. Last week, the Minnesota Senate overwhelmingly approved new driver’s license standards to offer drivers and other state identification holders a choice between getting the federally approved identification or keeping a non-federally compliant identification card.

The House is expected to approve a similar measure Tuesday.

But there are differences between the House and Senate measures.

The House measure would ban undocumented immigrants from receiving driver’s licenses, a provision to which both DFL senators and a bipartisan cohort of House members object. During Tuesday’s floor discussion, Rep. Rod Hamilton, R-Mountain Lake, will attempt to change that, he said.