Minnesotans Need New IDs Or May Be Grounded

Minnesota violates federal identification card rules, and Minnesotans needing an ID to get into some federal facilities may be out of luck.

Within days, the federal government is expected to announce when the updated IDs will be needed to board airliners. If state law does not change by then, Minnesotans would be grounded.

Federal Department of Homeland Security officials sent a letter Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton received Tuesday saying the state has not made process on improving its driver’s license and other ID cards. Thus, the two said, “federal agencies may not accept Minnesota driver’s licenses and identification cards for official purposes. …”

The letter was in response to Dayton’s request that the state get more time to meet new rules.

Minnesota is the only state without a so-called Real ID card or making progress toward upgrading existing ones.

State and federal authorities said that most federal buildings and military bases in Minnesota likely are not affected by the new rules, but Homeland Security spokeswoman Amanda DeGroff suggested that people call a federal facility they want to visit in advance to make sure they have proper ID, if it is required.

Many federal facilities establish their own ID requirements, DeGroff said. Some accept passports and other forms of identification.

Complaints received by the governor’s office are from Minnesotans who have had difficulty getting into some Washington, D.C., buildings, not ones in the state.

IDs often are required to get into offices, but less often are needed to access public spaces.

As of October, military bases and “almost all federal facilities” would only accept ID cards meeting federal Real ID standards, assistant Homeland Security secretaries Alan Bersin and Philip McNamara wrote to Dayton. Minnesota had received a temporary exception to the Real ID requirement, but that was revoked this week when federal authorities decided the state was not making progress toward the standards.

Minnesota does not comply with 13 Real ID requirements, mostly provisions to make the ID more secure.

State law prohibits state officials from working toward implementing Real ID standards. Dayton and legislative leaders have discussed folding the Real ID issue into a special legislation session the governor originally proposed to extend unemployment payments for laid-off Iron Range workers. No decision has been made about holding a special session.

Minnesota House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, promised to continue working with Dayton “to achieve compliance” with federal ID standards.

Dayton had no comment on the letter Tuesday as he was returning from an Iron Range meeting, but his staff said he would talk about it to reporters Wednesday.

“Minnesotans should be able to enter federal facilities and military bases using their government-issued driver’s licenses, just like all other Americans do,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., said. “I have spoken with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security about this issue and I continue to call on the Minnesota state Legislature to make the necessary changes to state law that appropriately fix this issue for Minnesotans while protecting privacy and civil liberties.”

The issue that would most affect Minnesotans is boarding an airliner, which requires an identification card. Homeland Security officials say they will announce when a Real ID will be required for boarding. The announcement is expected in the next week or two.

“The Transportation Security Administration continues to accept all state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards, including those from Minnesota,” DeGroff said. “DHS is in the process of scheduling plans for Real ID enforcement at airports and will ensure that the traveling public has ample notice, at least 120 days, before any changes are made that might affect their travel.”