The REAL ID roll-out has been a headache for much of the country, but perhaps nowhere has the issue been more nightmarish than Minnesota.
Legislative resistance, last-minute sprints, and languishing computer problems have all contributed to the confusion. But residents there have finally received a clear message: Minnesota licenses and state IDs will be federally accepted through 2020.
That means North Star State travelers can continue using their old ID cards to fly across the country for at least two more years.
The news comes after Governor Mark Dayton met personally with Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen to discuss the matter. It extends a deadline by which standard Minnesota licenses and state IDs would no longer grant holders access to domestic flights. That date was previously set for this October.
Passed in the wake of September 11, the REAL ID Act calls for states to implement a more stringent process when issuing licenses and identification cards. The idea behind the rule is to weed out any wrongdoers who may use standard ID cards to board planes.
The North Star State has struggled with the concept from the start. Legislators there passed a 2009 law to forbid themselves from adopting the policy. At the time, lawmakers cited concerns with the amount of data the federal government would collect through REAL IDs, and the possibility of the measure creating an easily corruptible national ID system.
Their concerns were not shared by the DHS, which made the rest of the process a struggle for Minnesota, eventually granting the state several extensions to comply with the policy—but only after numerous rounds of arduous negotiation.
Still, the most recent allowance may alleviate more than the confusion of Minnesota residents. Nearly simultaneously, Minnesota sustained a $100 million meltdown of the computer system utilized by its Driver and Vehicle Services department.
The fast-approaching October deadline was an especially big complication for the state. It created more pressure to fix the computer system as quickly as possible, as it was anticipated that millions of Minnesotans would need to use it when applying for a new REAL ID.
The extra months could be crucial in helping the state get the system back online in an orderly manner, and hopefully give Minnesota perfect hindsight vision by 2020.