Backers of the "photo ID" voter legislation got a bit of a scare last week.
The bill, which would require voters to show photo identification when they vote, was pronounced nearly dead by a group that had championed it. "Internal Republican politics may ultimately kill 21st Century Voter ID," screamed an e-mail alert from Minnesota Majority.
The photo ID proposals originally were projected to cost $60 million because of weighty mandates that would require precincts to have electronic verification systems, making the bills a hard sell.
Supporters say photo ID is needed to prevent fraud at the polls. Opponents argue that it would disenfranchise some voters.
Bill sponsor Sen. Warren Limmer, R-Maple Grove, said the proposal still is on track, largely because of changes that strip the cost to under $5 million -- though the new analysis has not been released. The computerized verification systems would be optional.
Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer, R-Big Lake, plans to make similar changes in the House.
Limmer said the bill is paid for with federal funds for election improvements and $2 million from a Minnesota fund for creating identification cards.
The bill could reach a vote in the Senate in the next several weeks. Kiffmeyer said the House version could be folded into a budget bill later.
Gov. Mark Dayton has said the photo ID proposal is "largely a solution in search of a problem." Minnesota Majority Executive Director Dan McGrath said lawmakers plan to introduce a constitutional amendment that, if passed by the House and Senate, would bypass the governor and appear on the ballot in the next election.
While some Republicans want to spend money to pay for photo ID, others want to cut spending on transit, prompting its advocates to sound alarms.
Metropolitan Council Chairwoman Susan Haigh said absorbing the cuts by a combination of fare increases and service cuts would mean a 25 cent hike and cutting nearly 45 percent of regular route bus service.