Bill to ease citizen border crossings headed for voteby Tim Pugmire, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — Legislation aimed at speeding up international border crossings is headed for a final vote in the Minnesota Senate.
The bill would establish enhanced driver's licenses and identification cards that would eliminate the need for state residents to show their passports, which have been a border requirement since 2009.
DFL Sen. Tom Saxhaug of Grand Rapids told members of the Senate Finance Committee Wednesday that the voluntary program will help preserve travel, trade and cultural ties with Canada.
"During the Olympics, both Washington and British Columbia had the enhanced driver's licenses," Saxhaug said. "I think that helped their back and forth travel. Manitoba and Ontario both have it, as does Quebec; and Washington, New York and Vermont already have it."
A state Department of Public Safety official said the enhanced driver's licenses will have a radio frequency ID chip to allow for faster border crossings. A House version of the bill is also nearing final action.