Minnesota Nearing Deadline for Read ID Compliance

By: Bridget Clerkin December 16, 2015
Pending an extension from the DHS, Minnesota residents may have to show their passports in order to fly domestic.
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Miniaturized toiletries, shoeless security checks, full-body scans, and now, passport requirements?

In the post-9/11 world, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has asked us to go through increasing airport security measures to check against the ever-evolving threats to the country. And now residents of Minnesota may have to add one more step to the process.

A deadline is quickly approaching for the state to adapt the REAL ID Act, a 2005 law which called for every state to adopt a more rigorous procedure for issuing driver’s licenses. If not adhered to by January 1, the law could make all current Minnesota licenses invalid forms of identification for domestic travel, forcing anyone from the state hoping to get on a plane to bring their passport along.

The issue is a 2009 law passed overwhelmingly in the North Star State banning it from implementing the REAL ID legislation or even exploring any preliminary measures. At the time, legislators cited privacy concerns for their decision. However, in the 6 years since, many have changed their tune.

In fact, several prominent state lawmakers, as well as Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton, have reached out to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the agency in charge of overseeing the law, to plead for an extension on the deadline, in order to begin preparing for the switch.

“I respectfully request that you grant Minnesota an extension of time, as was recently provided to Louisiana, New York, and New Hampshire…,” a letter sent from Dayton to DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson reads. “I remain committed to working to find a solution to allow Minnesotans to board aircraft in compliance with REAL ID.”

For their part, the DHS has said they’ve received Minnesota’s request, but have yet to review it. While saying the Department of Homeland Security is “committed to working with state officials to ensure compliance with REAL ID Act standards,” DHS spokeswoman Amanda DeGroff failed to comment on when Minnesota may receive its answer or what the status of the licenses would be in the interim.

Governor Dayton’s office also withheld comments regarding any repercussions from the delay. At stake is the validity of nearly 4 million licenses belonging to Minnesota residents.

An attempt to curb terrorism following several attacks or thwarted incidents on airplanes, the REAL ID act calls for states to require a resident show their birth certificate or verification of birth, Social Security number, proof of residence and evidence of lawful status in the country before issuing a driver’s license. The hope behind the legislation was to make domestic flights—on which passengers may board by simply showing a driver’s license—more secure.

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