Bill putting Real ID study in motion on way to Dayton

The Legislature has sent Gov. Mark Dayton the bill making the first move toward adoption of upgraded driver’s licenses in Minnesota.

By a 57-2 vote Wednesday, the Senate gave final approval to legislation ordering a study of costs and implementation issues surrounding the security enhanced licenses. It followed an equally lopsided vote by the House the night before.

The Department of Public Safety must produce that report by April 14, leaving the Legislature about a month to consider whether to authorize license agents to begin issuing the ID cards later this year. Consideration of that bill is expected to be more contentious because in 2009 the state enacted a law that prevented planning by Minnesota officials.

To get one of the cards, applicants will have to submit more information and documents to prove their identity, raising concerns over privacy and safeguarding of critical information. But the federal government has required states to upgrade driver’s licenses and said people without the new cards could eventually be denied access to certain buildings, military bases and domestic flights.

Federal officials will begin enforcing Real ID standards at airports as soon as 2018. State lawmakers are counting on getting a federal waiver that would hold off that enforcement until 2020. The bill requires state officials to apply for that waiver.