Keeping old licenses part of Minnesota Real ID debate
ST. PAUL — House Republicans advanced a bill Monday that wouldn't allow Minnesota residents to keep their older IDs as the state makes upgrades to satisfy the federal government — the latest in the list of issues the Legislature will need to address as lawmakers weigh how to comply with Real ID.
With less than a month to go until the legislative session winds down, there are no shortage of conflicting views between the House and Democrat-controlled Senate over the federal ID standards. A top Senate lawmaker said they'll push to maintain the option of using an older ID and roll out the newer cards on a slower timeline than Republicans have envisioned.
Minnesota's debate over the federal law boosting ID security standards goes back years, but has ramped up this year over concern about residents getting turned away from domestic flights. The Department of Homeland Security has said it will start requiring the upgraded IDs at gates in early 2018, but Minnesota is seeking an extension that could push that deadline back to October 2020.
Rep. Dennis Smith's bill would set the upgrades in motion this fall, ensuring residents can get their current licenses replaced with a federally backed card in the normal, four-year renewal window. And the new IDs would be the only option. Despite some calls to allow residents wary of the federal card to opt out, Smith argued that could cause administrative problems for the state.
"There isn't very much difference between the federal Real ID requirements and what we currently use," the Maple Grove Republican said.
Republicans rejected an amendment that would have allowed residents to opt out of the new IDs by maintaining the current cards. The House Civil Law Committee later passed the bill Monday.
Sen. Scott Dibble said that's the approach the Senate will take, arguing residents should be able to choose whether they want the new card. And he said a bill set to be introduced later this week wouldn't start issuing new IDs until 2018, citing a cost savings of up to $5 million of a slower timeline.
There's not much time to work out those differences. Lawmakers have less than a month of the session to go, and state officials say they need an answer on how to handle Real ID by mid-May.