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Minn. lawmakers want state to seek extension for Real ID compliance

ST. PAUL — Two Minnesota lawmakers want Minnesota to get an extension so that people can still board domestic airplanes with regular driver's licenses after Oct. 10.

On Tuesday, Feb. 27, Reps. Paul Torkelson, R-Hanska, and Dennis Smith, R-Maple Grove, asked Gov. Mark Dayton to seek an extension from the federal government on a fall deadline over compliance with Real ID, a new, higher-security identification regimen.

Torkelson, who chairs the House Transportation Finance Committee, and Smith, who was the lead sponsor of the Real ID legislation approved last year, made their request in a letter to Dayton.

Without an extension from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Minnesotans seeking to board domestic flights, enter a military base or gain access to some other federal installations will no longer be able to do so with a standard driver's license after Oct. 10.

The state won't begin issuing Real ID-compliant driver's licenses until Oct. 1, so some lawmakers fear a crush of people seeking to obtain a Real ID.

Torkelson said he's not worried, calling the extension "routine."

"Minnesotans can rest assured knowing that the Legislature will work with the Dayton Administration to seek a routine extension to ensure Minnesotans can continue to travel on airplanes using their normal IDs," Torkelson said in a statement. "We fully expect an extension to be granted by the federal government."

Minnesota has sought — and been granted — extensions for Real ID before. In fact, without those extensions, our standard driver's licenses wouldn't get us through airport security today.

The longest federal extension could give Minnesotans a reprieve through 2020. The Oct. 1 deadline for Minnesota to begin issuing Real IDs, however, appears firm.

The state has hired an outside firm, FAST Enterprises, to lead the technical effort, which involves replacing an aging software system.

On Tuesday, Johanna Clyborne, commissioner for MNIT, the state's information technology agency, said Minnesota will make the deadline.