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After assurances, Minnesota officials now think the state will be OK with Real ID compliance

June 2016 mock-up of what a Real ID Minnesota driver's license could look like. The actual Real ID license would be developed once the state approves a plan. The 2016 Legislature did not agree on a plan. Photo courtesy of Minnesota Department of Public Safety.

ST. PAUL — After a high-level meeting with federal officials, Minnesota officials are more confident that the state's plans for rolling out new Real ID driver's licenses will work.

On Wednesday, Sept. 13, Gov. Mark Dayton's chief of staff and deputy chief of staff met with a deputy assistant, a director and a manager for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

"(The Department of Homeland Security) has assured Minnesota that federal agencies will honor the current extension, until DHS makes final extension decisions," Dayton spokesman Sam Fettig said.

Real ID is a federal law that requires all state licenses and identification to have certain security measures in place in order to be valid at federal checkpoints.

Starting next year, U.S. airport officials will require most travelers to present the federally approved identification, unless they come from states that have extensions.

In 2020, all extensions will run out and federal officials will require the new identification from all travelers.

This presented a problem for Minnesota, which only approved the creation of the new licenses this year and had planned to start issuing them late next year. Over the summer, federal officials told Minnesota it would give the state an extension only until Oct. 10 of this year, not the three-year extension it wanted.

The state may not get official word of a continuing extension past October, "given the current focus of DHS on hurricane relief efforts," Fettig said, but federal official said, "states (that) continue to make progress with compliance will continue to be granted extensions."

With the three-year extension, Minnesota driver's licenses would continue to be accepted at many federal security checkpoints until 2020. By then, the state would have been distributing its new licenses for a while and most Minnesotans who wanted them could have gotten them.

"All Minnesotans should rest assured that they can continue to board airplanes and access federal facilities, as Minnesota works to fully implement REAL ID and comply with federal requirements," Fettig said.

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