Governor Pawlenty and the Minnesota Legislature Join Forces to Protect Minnesotan's Privacy

Affiliate: ACLU of Minnesota
May 20, 2009 12:00 am

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Minnesota becomes the 23rd state to prohibit implementation of the 2005 Real ID ACT


SAINT PAUL – During a legislative session where the Governor and Legislature did not agree on much, public officials from both parties overwhelmingly passed a bill prohibiting the implementation of the Real ID Act of 2005, an unfunded federal mandate for the creation of a national ID card. Coming on the heels of a nearly unanimous House and Senate vote, Governor Pawlenty signed the legislation into law in the last days of the 2009 legislative session.

“This is a tremendous, hard-won victory for Minnesotans and I thank the Governor and Legislature for making the privacy of our citizens a top priority,” said ACLU of Minnesota Executive Director Charles Samuelson. “Our state officials sent a clear message to Washington that we will not submit to a wrongheaded federal mandate that puts our privacy at risk.”

Samuelson added that the Real ID Act of 2005 mandates all states redesign their drivers’ licenses to make them consistent with federal regulations – creating a de facto internal passport. All Americans’ personal information needed for a drivers’ license would then be held in a single database that is accessible to federal and state officials – the cost and security of which is unknown.

Since its enactment, Real ID has faced significant pushback in the states. To date, 22 states passed legislation denouncing the federal initiative. Minnesota is the 23rd state to refuse to participate in REAL ID. The ACLU of Minnesota spent a great deal of time over the last few years educating the legislature on the dangers of Real ID. In addition, the National Governors Association and the National Conference of State Legislatures also strongly oppose the Real ID Act.

State opposition to Real ID is being heard at the Federal level. During her January 2009 confirmation hearing, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano called for a review of Real ID, saying the states were not consulted enough in its creation and that the initiative is a fiscal burden on the states. Before heading up Homeland Security, Napolitano was Governor of Arizona, where she signed legislation prohibiting her state from complying with the requirements of Real ID.

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