And lucky us, our state of Minnesota made the list. Minnesota and four other states have not fully adopted the REAL ID standard demanded by the federal government in making their identification cards compliant with security measures. Travelers from those states had better plan to get passports if they expect to use airline travel, unless their states come into compliance before then:
Airline passengers in five states and a U.S. territory will be unable to present their current driver’s licenses at airport checkpoints after Jan. 22, 2018, under new rules announced on Friday by the Department of Homeland Security.
The Homeland Security department, which overseas the TSA, said it would begin enforcing a post-Sept. 11 law that directs federal agencies to only accept state-issued identifications that meet federal security standards that were enacted in 2005.
Most states have either adopted the more secure driver’s licenses, known as REAL IDs, or have plans to do so later this year. But Minnesota, Illinois, Missouri, New Mexico, Washington state and American Samoa have not moved to make their driver’s licenses compliant with the new federal standard, meaning airline passengers from those states will have to present other forms of identification at TSA checkpoints. …
“Passengers can also continue to use any of the various other forms of identification accepted by TSA (such as a Passport or Passport Card, Global Entry card, U.S. military ID, airline or airport-issued ID, federally recognized tribal-issued photo ID),” Johnson continued. “Travelers are encouraged to check the REAL ID compliance status of their state on the DHS website and review TSA’s list of acceptable forms of identification. Travelers may also check with their state’s driver’s licensing agency about how to acquire a REAL ID compliant license.”
As the Star Tribune reports this morning, this is actually a reprieve. TSA had threatened to cut off non-compliant IDs much sooner. But it’s not clear that the mood has improved enough in Minnesota to make all drivers licenses REAL ID-compliant, although Minnesotans can request a compliant card for an additional fee:
Opponents were critical of requirements in the law that include storing images of documents that driver’s license applicants present as proof of their identity, such as birth certificates. State officials say that information could be breached and could be used to track law-abiding U.S. citizens.
Some politicians in many states, like Minnesota, said the new ID cards amounted to a national identification card, collecting and storing massive amounts of private data. The growing number of data breaches at companies and government institutions only emboldened the skeptics.
By a nearly unanimous vote in 2009, the Minnesota Legislature prohibited the Department of Public Safety from taking any steps to comply.
Many privacy advocates are also critical that the U.S. government is unilaterally setting standards in an area traditionally handled by the states.
My wife tried warning me to take our passports on our last trip, based on an e-mail making the rounds out here. Her timing was off, but the concern was accurate. We do have passports, so it won’t add much burden to us when traveling if Minnesota balks again, but plenty of other Minnesotans may not have that option.
Frankly, though, this seems like an odd obstacle. TSA checks my drivers license mainly to make sure that the anti-counterfeit holographic overlay is present and to make sure it hasn’t expired. They treat my REAL ID-compliant passport the same way. I haven’t seen them treat anyone else’s drivers licenses any differently, regardless of what state they come from. Does TSA plan to install ID readers at every station and do a significant records check at the security position on every passenger? That would add a lot of time to those lines in the airports that are already snaking a considerable distance in airports, especially at Minneapolis-St. Paul International. If the TSA has a plan to use this standard efficiently, then maybe it’s worth demanding compliance, but this looks suspiciously like bureaucratic box-checking — and that may be why Minnesota and the other four states are getting an eleventh-year reprieve.