A proposal by a House Republican would push out implementation of the federal Real ID law to 2018, earning a rebuke Tuesday from Gov. Mark Dayton, who accused Republicans of a "failure of responsible leadership."
The kerfuffle comes just two days before a joint legislative working group will debate how to bring Minnesota into compliance with the implementation of a federal law that governs the security requirements of state identification cards.
The draft language revealed a rift between some Republican legislators who are concerned about privacy rights and federal overreach and others who hope to avoid disrupting air travel for thousands of Minnesotans.
Legislators in 2009 approved a strict law that prohibited the state from taking steps to comply with the federal law.
Dayton late last year sent federal authorities a letter requesting a deadline extension to comply. The request was denied, and federal officials are expected to soon say when they will begin enforcement at airport security screenings. Federal officials have said that no matter when enforcement begins, it will give Minnesota four months' notice.
Susan Closmore, a spokesman for House Republicans, said the language, authored by Rep. Peggy Scott, R-Andover, was one of several drafts prepared by Republicans. The Associated Press first reported on the draft language controversy.
"House Republicans cannot solve these problems alone, and to date we are the only ones who have made any effort solve this problem," Closmore said in a statement.
She added that House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, has not changed his position on Real ID, first made clear in November when he and Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, supported Dayton's request for an extension. "Our No. 1 priority is making sure that people can travel," he said at the time.
Dayton in a statement nonetheless decried Scott's proposal.
"There is no sensible reason for the House Republicans not to remedy Minnesota's deficiencies swiftly and completely, so that our citizens can be assured of access to commercial airlines and federal buildings," Dayton said. "Failing to do so would be a failure of responsible leadership."
Dayton has pressed for a special legislative session in part to deal with the Real ID issue. Republicans have balked at the idea, saying there is time to deal with the issue when the regular session convenes in early March.
House Minority Leader Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, also criticized the proposal, saying: "We should work quickly to implement a fix that gives Minnesota residents and businesses some certainty that they will be able to board airplanes using their Minnesota driver's license."
Scott, chairwoman of the House Civil Law and Data Practices Committee, did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday.