- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 23, 2015

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Gov. Mark Dayton tried Wednesday to quell residents’ worries that their standard Minnesota driver’s licenses eventually won’t be accepted at airport checkpoints, but he also urged lawmakers to address the issue soon.

Dayton was reacting to the Department of Homeland Security’s denial of his request for a waiver for implementing REAL ID, a security-enhanced license that will soon be required for commercial air travel, entry into some federal buildings and access to military bases. Minnesota is among a few states that have resisted the shift to enhanced licenses and has a 2009 law on the books barring state agencies from planning for such a conversion.

Dayton said Tuesday’s written warning makes it imperative to hold a special legislative session next month to repeal the 2009 law so that planning can begin. He and top legislators have been discussing a special session on that issue and others, but they haven’t settled on the terms.

“I don’t want to be alarmist. I don’t want people thinking they’re not going to be able to get on an airplane on Jan. 2nd because that’s just not my belief,” Dayton said. “But the response from DHS speaks for itself. We haven’t even taken the necessary first step, so a special session is the time to get started.”

House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, issued a statement promising to work with Dayton on a solution.

“Minnesotans can confidently travel this holiday season without a REAL ID requirement to board an airplane,” he said.

In their letter, top Homeland Security officials said Minnesota will get 120 days’ notice before a REAL ID-compliant card will be required for domestic air travel. People without one could use a passport to get through airport security.

“Minnesota may renew its extension request if there are developments or additional information provided regarded your state’s progress towards meeting the outstanding requirements, the reasons that these standards remain unmet and the reasons for continued noncompliance,” the letter said.

REAL IDs require applicants to submit more personal information and subjects them to additional scrutiny. Applicants also must attest to their identity under the penalty of perjury.

Even after Minnesota lawmakers authorize the REAL ID, state officials say it could take up to six months to make them available. Dayton said he would support a two-tier system allowing people to choose a standard identification if they don’t want to go through the new application process with the understanding travel burdens could result.

“We’ll do everything we can to make the transition a smooth one,” Dayton said.

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