Kentucky lawmakers get Real ID update - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Kentucky lawmakers get Real ID update

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A sample Kentucky driver's license. Courtesy: Kentucky Transportation Cabinet A sample Kentucky driver's license. Courtesy: Kentucky Transportation Cabinet

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WDRB) – Kentucky deserves an extra year to meet new federal standards for driver’s licenses and other state-issued identification cards, the state’s vehicle regulation commissioner told lawmakers on Tuesday.

John-Mark Hack, who is overseeing Kentucky’s compliance with “Real ID,” said the state already “addresses most of the provisions” of the law passed by Congress in 2005 aimed at boosting the security of documents used to enter federal buildings and board airplanes.  

Kentucky was approved for a waiver last year that gives it until next week to meet the requirements, but Hack has asked the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for another one-year extension.

The waiver allows Kentuckians to keep using their driver’s licenses as an acceptable form of federal ID. Without it, a passport or other U.S-issued ID would be needed to enter some federal facilities.

But even if the state fails to get a new extension by October 10, Hack said Kentuckians won’t immediately see big changes.

At first, he said, only a Homeland Security building in Washington, D.C., would stop accepting a Kentucky ID. Starting next January, however, a Kentucky driver’s license would no longer be accepted at some military installations and other federal facilities in the state.

A current driver’s license still would be enough to visit a Veterans Affairs building, Social Security office or federal courthouse, Hack said.

Unless Kentucky upgrades its driver’s licenses by January 2018, the current ones won’t be valid to board domestic flights. A passport or other identification also would be needed.

Speaking to the Kentucky General Assembly’s interim transportation committee on Monday, Hack said the state needs legislative approval in 2017 to start issuing licenses from a single office -- “a system that we believe is necessary to modernize our efforts and best serve the interest of Kentucky citizens.”

Having a single source to issue IDs – rather than in individual counties -- is an area keeping Kentucky from fully abiding by the federal law.

A recommendation of the 9/11 Commission, Real ID was touted as a way to keep terrorists from getting fake credentials. But critics of the law – including Tea Party groups and civil libertarians – have assailed it as a sweeping reach of government power with few security benefits.

Kentucky would have come into compliance with Real ID under a Republican-sponsored bill the General Assembly passed earlier this year. But Gov. Matt Bevin, a Republican who had publicly supported the measure, ultimately vetoed it.

Hack told lawmakers that organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union and Take Back Kentucky, a states’ rights group, voiced concerns with the bill. Bevin mentioned “widespread opposition” in his veto message.

But Rep. Leslie Combs, D-Pikeville, questioned why those groups weren’t vocal when the General Assembly passed the Real ID bill earlier this year.

“If we don’t get an extension, we’re in big ‘doo-doo,’” said Combs, who is not seeking re-election.

Sen. Ernie Harris, R-Crestwood, sponsored the bill. He said his measure was “a good opportunity” for Kentucky to meet the federal requirements before the state’s waiver expired.

“However, in the back of my mind was always the thought that, ‘Well, if it doesn’t pass or something like that, we still have one more shot with our short session in 2017,’” he said.

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