Relations at the State Capitol are becoming a bit strained over REAL ID, if Thursday’s exchange on the Senate floor is any indication. Democratic Senator Kent Eken from Twin Valley strongly objected to Alexandria Republican Bill Ingebrigtsen’s letter to the editor accusing Eken of blocking a REAL ID bill because, quote, “He wants to let illegal immigrants get driver’s licenses.” Eken says he never made any such statement and his vote had nothing to do with immigration or immigrants. He added, “I know that Senator Ingebrigtsen has…no information, no evidence, because it never happened. It is a completely baseless, completely manufactured, completely false allegation.” Ingebrigtsen did not respond.
Republican Majority Leader Paul Gazelka said he talked to Democratic Minority Leader Tom Bakk about this issue and added “we don’t want senator-on-senator comments if we can avoid them.” But Gazelka’s comments after that brought a sharp rebuke from another Democrat. Gazelka said he was frustrated after the REAL ID bill failed Monday because “we didn’t get one Democratic vote on the bill that we thought should have passed, when 38 Democrats voted the year before.” Democratic Senator Scott Dibble fired back, “Anyone who represents that the bill that we voted on last session was the same as the bill that was offered by [Republican Senator Eric] Pratt [this session] is making a claim that is not accurate. It is false.”
The sticking point is drivers licenses for undocumented immigrants.
Here are Eken’s comments on the Senate floor, followed by the exchange between Gazelka and Dibble: