Minn. session deadline 'hanging by a thread' as budget talks continue

Lawmakers are careening toward the end of their session without having figured out a path to a new state budget.

If signed by Gov. Mark Dayton as expected, it will allow Minnesota to follow the other 49 USA states in moving to upgrade their licensing systems.

The Minnesota House voted 120-11 on Wednesday to bring the state into compliance with the federal Real ID law; the Senate followed suit later in the evening with a 57-8 vote. "We will not give the governor a blank check for more government spending without pairing it with needed reforms to improve how the state serves Minnesotans", said House Speaker Kurt Daudt.

The impasse is reminiscent of what happened in 2011, the last time Dayton and a Republican-controlled Legislature faced off to pass a two-year state budget. By counting the courts and cyber security funding priorities separately, Dayton wasn't actually meeting Republicans halfway, he said.

REAL ID licenses will cost the same to renew as a regular license, but the real price is peace of mind.

In response, Republican lawmakers said they are going into a "cone of silence" on the status of negotiations.

The measure allows people to choose between a Real ID license and a "non-compliant" license.

The federal government has twice denied Minnesota's request for an extension to comply with the Real ID federal standards for driver's license security rules.

The January deadline is still in play. "With us being compliant with the REAL ID they will have access to those buildings now even though REAL IDs won't be issued for about another year".

But most lawmakers were relieved to finally solve a problem that threatened to create major headaches for their constituents.

Dayton said that so far the two sides are still focused only on budget numbers.

"Minnesotans should be confident that when they get to the airport they'll be allowed to fly", said Rep. Gene Pelowski Jr., DFL-Winona. "He was delivering a counteroffer shortly after our interview".