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As others see it: Time for a special session

With plant shutdowns being announced seemingly daily now on the Iron Range and in Northeastern Minnesota — and with Minnesotans by the hundreds suddenly out of work, their families’ lives and their communities tossed into disarray — the only question with regard to offering a bit of public help ought to be, “How soon?”

In other words, the sooner the better for Gov. Mark Dayton and leading lawmakers to actually call and hold the special session of the Legislature that the governor started talking about last week to extend unemployment benefits for some 600 laid-off Iron Range mine workers. The benefits will expire otherwise, making a gut-wrenchingly difficult situation for hundreds of Minnesotans that much more unbearable. ...

At the same time, a special session also could be an opportunity to address “disparities in the black communities, specifically in the urban areas,” as Bakk said, according to Minnesota Public Radio. Dayton quickly embraced Bakk’s idea Wednesday. Legislation apparently already is poised to go.

The special session certainly can be an opportunity to address a decade of failure in Minnesota when it comes to joining the rest of the country in adopting Real ID, a federal measure to require more-secure driver’s licenses and identification cards. The new cards would be backed by verified proof of birth, residence, Social Security number and citizenship status. Real ID was created to combat terrorism. Has there ever been a better moment to embrace doing all we can on that front?

The federal government created Real ID in 2005. Minnesota and other states resisted, often with political rather than practical motivations. Taking a stand is fine, but most states recognized when it was time to do what was best for constituents. ...

Special sessions ought to be rare, short and focused. But they can be necessary. Like now.