New law ends worry over Minn. driver's licenses, boarding planes

Gov. Dayton addresses the media.
Gov. Mark Dayton adresses the media inside the Minnesota State Capitol in St. Paul, Minn. on Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2017
Evan Frost | MPR News File

Minnesotans don't need to agonize anymore about what kind of ID they might need in the future at the airport.

Gov. Mark Dayton's signature on a bill Thursday means Minnesota driver's licenses and identification cards will comply with federal security standards and citizens will be able to continue to use them to board planes.

Minnesota had been one of the last states in the nation to make sure its state driver's licenses adhere to the federal standards known as Real ID.

Without the change, there was a chance come January that Minnesota travelers could have been turned away at airport checkpoints unless they brought a passport or another acceptable form of identification.

The January deadline is still in play. But Minnesota is likely to apply for a waiver to get more time to implement the law. The state can get an extension to continue using standard driver's licenses until October 2020.

State officials expect to begin issuing the new IDs sometime next year.

The federal requirements were first put in place by Congress in 2005 as a terrorism response measure, but some states resisted what they saw as a heavy-handed rule that raised privacy concerns.

A compromise this session at the state Capitol had been hung up by a fight over driver's licenses for immigrants without proper documentation. Lawmakers agreed to shift that debate to a separate bill so Minnesota could finally move ahead with adoption of Real ID.

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