ID Act reveals legislative missteps

Disagreement could ground passengers

Ethan Brown

Minnesota’s prohibition of the Real ID Act will soon void driver’s licenses as ID when traveling within the United States, which is harshly unfair to Minnesotans and should be reconstructed.

The Real ID Act, passed in 2005, was implemented to combat terrorism. The law requires states to produce secure driver’s licenses with proof of name, date of birth, social security and other verified information. Beginning January 2016, it will become illegal to board a flight within the United States without a Real ID license, yet Minnesota has not yet complied with the original law.

The noncompliance with this act stems from 2009, when the Minnesota legislative system enacted a ban on the implementation of the Real ID Act. The Real ID Act is a completely logical piece of legislation, and banning it was a frustrating and improper move by the state government, as now Minnesotans will have to pay the consequences six years later. Not only does this law protect travelers, but it’s economically smart.

The law has been mainly supported, although organizations such as the Cato Institute and the American Center for Law and Justice have shown opposition because of privacy rights. This law, while practical, does raise questions about how far the government can intrude into civilian’s personal lives and information.

It’s important to consider the financial situation of many everyday people. The difference between the cost of a Minnesota driver’s license and a U.S. Passport is $92.75. For many people, that’s a lot of money to spend on travel documents. To further factor in economic disadvantages, the cost will go up even more for families hoping to travel together.

There exist options other than an official passport, but they aren’t advertised well enough. Drivers in Minnesota can opt to pay an extra $15 for an enhanced license, although that option hasn’t been taken advantage of very much. According to the Department of Homeland Security, only 7,000 Minnesotans have enhanced licenses.

In this situation, Minnesota’s legislative branch should face the most blame. As one of the four states to not yet improve their license laws, state legislators should take example from 46 other states. Governor Mark Dayton has called for an emergency session to be held multiple times, although so far there has been no such action. The House and Senate should’ve pushed this through before going on break, and must realize their mistakes to fix this pressing matter.

The Real ID Act, which is a morally and logically strong bill, should be enacted in Minnesota. The government should end its prohibition on the act so Minnesotans won’t have to pay extra money or take extra steps to make routine flights within the country.