Gov. Mark Dayton on Tuesday urged legislators to repeal a state law that could prevent Minnesotans from boarding commercial planes with their current driver’s license.
Dayton said in a news conference that the state should comply with the federal REAL ID Act, a 2005 law requiring better security features for state-issued ID cards.
Minnesota legislators in 2009, however, defied the federal government, approving a law that prohibited the state from issuing ID cards that would comply with federal law. Louisiana, New Hampshire and New York also lack U.S. government-approved driver’s licenses.
Recommended by the 9/11 Commission, Congress approved the REAL ID Act, which has been phased in since 2014. Beginning next year, however, domestic travelers will be unable to board a plane with a conventional driver’s license from Minnesota.
Minnesota and the other three states are negotiating with the Department of Homeland Security ahead of the January deadline.
Dayton said he spoke with Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson last week. “He indicated … that they would come up with an updating of that January 2016 deadline before the end of this year,” Dayton said.
If the deadline is unchanged, Dayton said a special session may be necessary. “I said that if we had to call a special session … we would obviously do so,” Dayton said. “We would prefer not to call a special session.”
Minnesota’s 2009 law was the result of contentious debate, and was initially vetoed by then-Gov. Tim Pawlenty.
Critics of the federal ID standards warned then that implementation would be costly and could infringe on individuals’ privacy. Supporters said the enhanced IDs would help in homeland security and immigration control efforts.
Dayton on Tuesday also met with NAACP leaders to discuss racial disparities affecting black Minnesotans. The meeting came just days after new census data showed a decline in black household income in the state. The meeting was previously scheduled.
“The disparities are very very distressing and they underscore that we need to do so much more,” Dayton said. He said he plans to propose additional funding to open satellite offices of the state’s Department of Human Rights, an agency tasked with ensuring compliance of equal opportunity requirements.
Nekima Levy-Pounds, president of the Minneapolis NAACP chapter, called the meeting a “step in the right direction.” She said the discussion focused on racial disparities in the workforce, corrections and government contracting. “We feel that African-Americans in Minnesota are in a state of crisis because of how terrible the disparities are,” Levy-Pounds said.
“It was a good thing that the governor took the time to listen to the concerns we brought forward,” she said, adding that “it’s going to take the governor and his administration working in tandem with groups like the NAACP … to address these challenges.”
Dayton and NAACP leaders will meet again in two months to discuss any progress made following Tuesday’s meeting.