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Is Real ID done yet? Minnesota Senate leader says: 'We're working on it'

ST. PAUL — Real ID, the legislation that would give Minnesotans assurance that their state-issued identification would meet federal standards, still isn't completed at the Legislature.

The joint-House-Senate committee charged with crafting a compromise to get a bill to Gov. Mark Dayton's desk hasn't even met in public for days.

Behind the scenes, leaders say they are still trying to complete the task.

"We're working on it," said Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, a Republican from near Nisswa. "We are talking about it: What is the best way forward to get a bill passed?"

Gazelka said it is frustrating there is no deal yet to get Minnesotans driver's licenses that the federal government will accept at security checkpoints, such as airports and other federal facilities. But he remains confident it will get done.

The federal government has said it will require Real ID compliant identification in 2018.

Most states have already changed their driver's licenses to be compliant. If Minnesota does not similarly change its licenses, Minnesotans would need other identification — such as a passport or Enhanced Driver's License — to meet federal requirements.

House Speaker Kurt Daudt, a Crown-area Republican, had hoped the Real ID legislation, which has long bedeviled Minnesota lawmakers, would be completed early in the 2017 session. He said he is still hopeful.

"I hope it is coming because I think it's an important issue," Daudt said. "I have learned to accept that things in the Legislature don't travel as fast as I would like them and I try to remain calm about that."

Part of the issue: Several Republican senators oppose the concept of the federal government placing requirements on state identification and worry about the privacy implications of the national Real ID law. That means to pass, the Real ID measure would require Democratic support in the Senate.

But winning that Democratic support might mean changing the bill in ways that would make the measure unpalatable to House Republicans.

Lawmakers have until May 22 to get the job done in their regular session.

Dayton has said, repeatedly, that he would sign whatever Real ID bill if the Legislature passes one.

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