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Kentucky Residents May Soon Need More Than a Driver's License to Get Into Some Federal Buildings


Kentucky residents may have trouble getting into federal buildings with just their driver's license come July 21.The Real ID Act of 2005, signed by President Bush as a means of deterring terrorism, lays out a strict set for states to issue identification, such as driver's licenses.Kentucky is among 11 states where driver's licenses do not comply with the federal standards. Beginning July 21, residents could potentially be forced to provide an alternate, federally issued ID — such as a passport — to enter federal buildings.Louisville Metro Councilwoman Attica Scott she plans to attend an Environmental Protection Agency meeting later this month in Atlanta and was concerned about whether she could get into the building.She received an email from an EPA spokesman that stated: “If your driver’s license is issued by Alaska, American Samoa, Arizona, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, New York, Oklahoma, or Washington State, you must present an additional form of identification to enter the Federal buildings where the public hearings will be held.”“It just makes me wonder why we haven’t addressed it,” Scott said.  “We’ve known since 2005 it was going to happen.”State officials have applied to the Department for Homeland Security for an extension, which would allow Kentucky residents to continue to use their licenses to get into to certain federal buildings.The extension would give the state’s 145 circuit court clerks time to enhance the security features in the Kentucky license to meet the federal requirements, said Lisa Tolliver, a spokeswoman for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet.Kentucky has been slower to meet the new license security standards because the state doesn't have a central agency that issues licenses, such as a Department of Motor Vehicles, Tolliver said.“It’s not like we have been dragging our feet,” she said. Homeland Security has received the state's request but has not yet completed a review needed for approval is given, she said.Kentucky's driver's licenses comply with the federal Real ID Act—but the process for issuing them does not, Tolliver said. The licenses will look the same as those issued after 2012, only with a gold star in the upper corner.Tolliver said the circuit court clerks across the state are conducting a security assessment to evaluate what needs to be updated and changed in each offices in order to enhance those security measures.Other states that are also currently non-compliant with the federal standards include Alaska, Arizona, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, New York, Oklahoma and Washington, according to a briefing from the Department of Homeland Security.Tolliver said it's unclear what happens if the extension isn't approved by the July 21 deadline.Kentucky residents will still be able to gain access to federal courthouses, Social Security buildings and VA hospitals, according to the transportation cabinet's  interpretation of the Real ID Act.A Department of Homeland Security spokeswoman has not returned requests for comment.People will still be able to get into federal buildings on any matter dealing with legal proceedings and healthcare issues, she said.“It is our interpretation (residents) will be able to get into courthouses, we don’t believe that will be a problem,” Tolliver said.Here's more information about the Real ID Act and when future deadlines are happening.

Jacob Ryan is an award-winning investigative reporter who joined LPM in 2014. Email Jacob at jryan@lpm.org.