Minnesotans may look for other options to Real ID

Published 10:15 am Thursday, March 16, 2017

By Rachel E. Stassen-Berger

St. Paul Pioneer Press

After the Minnesota Senate rejected a move to bring the state into compliance with federal Real ID standards, lawmakers were sent searching for a way to revive the measure.

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They are still searching.

“We’re trying to find a place that we both agree; it is the only issue we’re talking about,” Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, a Republican from near Nisswa, said Wednesday. He and Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk discussed the measure Wednesday morning, he said.

“It is more difficult than I expected it to be. In the end, we have to get it done,” Gazelka said Wednesday.

Last week, the Senate voted 29-38 to reject the Real ID measure. Five Republicans and all 33 of the Senate’s Democrats voted against the bill.

Republican senators generally say their bill is silent on the possibility of driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants in the future, as Gov. Mark Dayton would like to do. But many Democrats say the Republican bill would make it harder to set up the undocumented immigrant driver’s licenses in the future.

The question arises over the rule-making provision in the Senate bill. The bill gives the administration power to create new rules, “only to the extent necessary to implement the technical aspects,” of the new Real ID license and a companion non-Real ID license.

The language would not open the window Dayton wants to create licenses for people who are in the country illegally. But both Dayton and backers of the Real ID measure say the governor lacks that power now. Real ID bill-backers say that would not change if the bill becomes law.

Bakk, DFL-Cook, said earlier this week that Democrats were exploring whether “taking the rule-making out all together” would be a compromise that would win enough support for the Real ID measure to pass.