Dayton: Real ID may have to wait until next year

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Gov. Mark Dayton said Tuesday he doesn't see much momentum this session to implement a federal rule requiring everyone to have special identification cards that meet federal standards.

Minnesota is among six states and territories that haven't adopted the standards set out in the Real ID Act of 2005, which Congress passed following the 9-11 attacks.

That could be a problem in 2016, when airport security officials may start prohibiting people from boarding airplanes without driver licenses that comply with Real ID requirements .

"I would say the odds are going to be [the grace period is] extended," Dayton said. "You start telling Minnesotans, 'you can’t get on an airplane,' something is going to have to happen."

Dayton said the issue will certainly be on the table in 2016.

But Andrew Meehan, who is policy director for the Coalition for a Secure Driver’s License, a non-profit trying to persuade states to adopt the Real ID standards, said Dayton's view is short-sighted.

"The governor is playing chicken with the Department of Homeland Security that he's already lost," Meehan said. "Many of these states that have said, '[DHS] will extend this, they'll extend this, they'll extend this - it's simply not going to happen."

Meehan said the Real ID standards were largely meant to keep terrorists out of federal buildings, airplanes and nuclear facilities, but that the law has had the added benefit of making identify theft more difficult.

And Meehan says privacy and cost concerns some that state legislators have expressed in the past haven't come to fruition in states where Real ID has been implemented.

Earlier this year, Department of Public Safety Commissioner Ramona Dohman wrote in a letter to Dayton saying non-compliance is "impacting a growing number of Minnesotans."

Minnesotans with passports or with enhanced driver's licenses, which function much like a passport when traveling to certain countries, should have no problem boarding planes in 2016 because they meet federal standards.

Out of the more than 4 million driver's licenses issued in Minnesota, only about 4,400 of them are enhanced driver's licenses.

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