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Kentucky Officials Seek Extension On REAL ID Implementation

ky-drivers-license
KY Transportation Cabinet
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State officials have requested an extension to bring the state’s driver license policies into compliance with federal regulations to avoid locking out Kentuckians from federal institutions, nuclear facilities and eventually, commercial airplanes.

All states are required to be in compliance with federal REAL ID driver licenses and state identification standards put into effect in 2008 to help abate terrorism. Kentucky is one of 31 states that is not compliant or has an extension that expires on Oct 10.

Lawmakers passed a bill during this year’s legislative session that would have brought the state into compliance, but Gov. Bevin vetoed it citing “tremendous opposition and misunderstanding” of the issue.

“We also owe the voters of Kentucky the ability to see what effect, if any, the next presidential administration will have on the issue,” Bevin wrote in his veto.

The REAL ID bill would have centralized the issuance of drivers licenses to the state Transportation Cabinet instead of circuit clerks’ offices and verified applications through the federal government’s SAVE verification system for immigrants.

It also would have increased the cost of renewing licenses from $20 to $48, but the licenses would have been good for eight years instead of four.

Kentuckians would have had to provide a birth certificate to apply for a drivers license or ID.

“We have a highly decentralized system of driver license and identification issuance that does not represent the most secure environment for issuing those credentials,” said John-Mark Hack, commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Vehicle Registration, during a legislative committee on Tuesday.

The REAL ID legislation that Bevin vetoed was opposed by the ACLU of Kentucky and Take Back Kentucky, citing privacy concerns.

Kate Miller, advocacy director of the ACLU of Kentucky, criticized the policy in a Courier-Journal letter earlier this week.

“Implementing REAL ID would add Kentuckians' most sensitive information (birth certificates and social security numbers) to a massive, vulnerable database creating a one-stop shop for identity thieves,” she said.

Miller also argued that birth certificates to obtain enhanced ID’s would be hard for some Kentuckians to obtain and the policy would do little to stop terrorism.

Sen. Ernie Harris, a Republican from Louisville, sponsored the REAL ID bill that Bevin vetoed. He says opponents of the legislation were misguided.

“As sponsor of the bill, I received numerous letters and emails about REAL ID, mostly from people that I felt were uninformed, Harris said. “I think that was one of the issues with it was the education of why we needed to do this.”

Kentucky’s current extension expires on Oct. 10, at which time Kentuckians would no longer be able to enter the Department of Homeland Security headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Starting Jan. 10, 2017, Kentucky driver licenses and identification may not be accepted at some federal facilities like military bases and nuclear power plants.

And on Jan. 22, 2018, Kentuckians wouldn’t be able to board commercial airplanes without a passport.

Ryland Barton is the Managing Editor for Collaboratives. Email Ryland at rbarton@lpm.org.