ST. PAUL, Minn. – A revised version of the Real ID bill passed the Minnesota Senate late Thursday evening after language barring illegal immigrants from receiving driver’s licenses was removed.
The bill passed by a vote of 60-7 on Thursday evening, with nearly unanimous Democratic support. Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk (DFL – Cook) and Sen. Jim Carlson (DFL – Eagan) remained in opposition to the bill.
A previous version of the bill contained provisions that would ban undocumented immigrants from obtaining a driver’s license. As Alpha News previously reported, that bill failed by a vote of 29-38.
The removal of that provision led to the DFL change of heart, though the House’s version of the bill passed with the provision intact. Negotiations between the chambers are expected to be difficult.
“It doesn’t matter what the House thinks. The Senate can’t pass what the House passed,” Bakk told the Star Tribune.
Minnesota has until January 2018 to implement Real ID standards into the state’s driver’s licenses or Minnesotans will need to use a passport or other form of enhanced identification to board planes and enter federal facilities. Lawmakers are optimistic the federal government could grant the state an extension.
“The federal government just wants us to have a plan to move forward. As long as we’re moving forward and making progress, they’ll grant us the extension,” Sen. Eric Pratt (R – Prior Lake) the Senate bill’s chief author, told the Star Tribune.
For the Republicans who voted against the bill their primary concern of data privacy for Minnesotans remains the primary issue.
“When it comes to data privacy I don’t trust the government and I don’t trust corporations,” Sen. Warren Limmer (R – Maple Grove) told the Pioneer Press.
One of Limmer’s district’s house counterparts, Rep. Dennis Smith (R – Maple Grove), was the chief author of the bill in the house. Smith is more optimistic than Bakk about the possibility of the two chambers coming to a compromise.
“Real ID is about Minnesotans flying on airplanes, it’s not about giving undocumented residents a driver’s license,” Smith told MPR, “So if we can find a way to separate those issues, that’s what Minnesotans want and what Minnesotans deserve.”