Week two of the 2017 legislative session was another busy one. Committees began meeting to hear and pass legislation, federal tax conformity was sent to the governor’s desk for signature, and House File 1 is continuing to make its way through the legislative process.
Here is an update from the Capitol.
You may recall that last year legislation to allow our state to comply with federal Real ID requirements stalled in negotiations, with a handful of DFL Senators insisting that the bill give the Department of Public Safety rulemaking authority to provide driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants.
Well this year with a new legislature and a looming deadline, the House is working to pass House File 3, the Real ID compliance bill, through the legislative process as quickly as possible. According to the Department of Homeland Security, after January 22, 2018, Americans with a non-compliant form of identification will need an alternative form of identification for domestic air travel. An extension could be granted until 2020 if we pass this legislation and are on the path to full compliance.
House File 3 is similar to the legislation that passed last year off the House Floor 87-42. It allows for a two-tier identification system so that Minnesotans concerned about privacy protections are able to opt-out. It will also cover the cost of a new ID if Minnesotans have to renew before their previous driver’s license expires.
Additionally, I think it’s important to note that even with a new Real ID-compliant driver’s license, private information will still be stored in the same way and remain private and protected as we do within our current system.
This is a priority bill for the millions of Minnesotans who fly or visit federal facilities. I am supportive of this legislation and hope we can get it sent to the governor soon for signature.
House File 235
This session, I am authoring House File 235, bipartisan legislation that will repeal the Made in Minnesota Solar Program. This expensive program incentivizes individuals, businesses and others who buy solar panels from a small group of Minnesota companies, paying as much thirty-one times the market rate for the energy produced, even if they consume all that energy themselves.
The program is allotted $15 million a year and is paid by Xcel Energy ratepayers into a “renewable energy fund,” essentially meaning it’s average Minnesotans subsidizing this boondoggle that benefits only a few.
My legislation would repeal this program as we focus on ways to better invest our dollars in clean, cost-effective and innovative energy solutions for our state.
Ignition Interlock and Data Privacy
Recently, the Civil Law Committee held a hearing on GPS tracking in ignition interlock systems for Minnesotans with DUI offenses. The problem is that this data is being collected by companies, and can be accessed publicly and without a warrant.
This is a violation of citizens’ constitutional rights as well as a potential safety risk for people to be stalked, harassed or harmed. The legislature needs to pass legislation to ensure this information about where people are traveling who use ignition interlock remains private.
You can see a recent KSTP story to learn more about this issue here.
If you need assistance on an issue pertaining to state government, my office is available to you. You can e-mail at Rep.Marion.ONeill@House.MN or call my office at 651-296-5063. You can also write a letter to me. My office address at the Capitol is 549 State Office Building, 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, St. Paul, MN 55155.