MN Senate hearing highlights Real ID divide

Real ID critic Jim Harper, right, testified during a state Senate hearing, as the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Eric Pratt, looked on. Tim Pugmire | MPR News

Legislation to move the state toward compliance with the federal Real ID law is facing extended scrutiny from a Minnesota Senate panel.

Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee heard testimony from supporters and opponents of the bill Tuesday. It was the first of two scheduled hearings on the bill that would authorize the distribution of the more secure drivers’ licenses that travelers will need to show at airports beginning next January.

“Many Minnesotans expect us to pass a Real ID bill so they can use their state-issued ID for federal purposes,” said Sen. Eric Pratt, R-Prior Lake, the bill’s chief sponsor. “Our business community and their employees want to be able to travel without carrying additional credentials.”

Pratt said his bill is a good compromise, because it allows people with data privacy concerns the option of sticking with a noncompliant driver’s license.

Opponents questioned whether the state should comply.

Jim Harper, vice president of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, said the personal privacy cost of the requirements is too high. Harper warned lawmakers not to let the federal government take away their authority over drivers’ licenses.

“It’s taking power from you that you won’t get back if you cede it to the federal government,” Harper said.

Harper also predicted that the federal government will again push back its compliance deadline, as it already has multiple times.

Supporters of the bill don’t want to risk potential problems when Real ID enforcement begins.

Jeff Davidmann, vice president of state and local government affairs for Delta Airlines, said confused customers are already asking airline representatives a lot of questions about what might happen.

“Quite frankly, they don’t have the answers. They’re not sure what to tell customers because Minnesota hasn’t found a solution to this yet,” Davidmann said.

Committee members will meet again Wednesday to discuss the legislation among themselves and take a vote.

Sen. Warren Limmer, R-Maple Grove, is the committee chairman and a longtime critic of the federal law.

Limmer criticized the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for demanding Real ID compliance while consistently refusing to send any representatives to the Minnesota Capitol to discuss the law.

“I’m hoping that the taxpayers of this state as well as the federal taxpayers that are in this room are understanding that this is the type of partner that we are going to be coming into agreement with very soon if this bill passes,” Limmer said.

  • wjc

    Sen. Limmer criticizes Homeland Security, while not acknowledging that he and the MN GOP have been dragging their feet on this issue for years hoping that it would go away. Typical.

  • Put Your Wingsuit On

    Representative Dan Shoen was very vocal about his support for an alternative ID to REAL ID for the people of Minnesota but he didn’t even show up to vote on this bill! What a scumbag!

    Soon you will not be able to buy or sell without REAL ID (Mark of the Beast) or its equivalent. The Internet of Things and the UN’s Sustainable Development and Open Cities Network will ensure it just as much as the lies it is being sold under now, i.e., security, authentication, convenience, and protecting us against terrorism. By getting a REAL ID or US Passport you are submitting to tyranny.