FRANKFORT, Ky. (WDRB) — Kentucky officials plan to establish offices in 12 cities across the state where drivers can apply for the airplane-friendly Real ID driver’s licenses.
But more cities could be added, ultimately expanding to as many as 30, Kentucky Vehicle Regulation Commissioner Matt Henderson told lawmakers Monday.
In the first legislative briefing since Kentucky changed its approach to the Real ID rollout, Henderson said the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet has identified state-owned and state-maintained property for the facilities.
The “initial wave” will include Paducah, Madisonville, Bowling Green, Elizabethtown, Louisville, Lexington, Florence, Somerset, Manchester, Jackson, Prestonsburg and Morehead, he said.
In Louisville, state officials are working with Jefferson County Circuit Clerk David Nicholson’s office to use existing driver’s license bureaus. There would be just one location in Lexington under current plans.
Henderson said the goal is to have the Louisville locations open “a little bit after the beginning of the year.”
The Paducah, Bowling Green and Somerset offices are likely to be the first that open, he said.
For now, the longest drive to get to one of the 12 application sites would be more than an hour — in southeastern Kentucky, Henderson said.
But there’s one obstacle to making the state’s plan a reality: Kentucky law governing Real ID doesn’t permit the regional approach.
“It’s imperative that as we enter into this next legislative session that we have legislation that enables this process to go forward to ensure that we can offer these credentials to the citizens of the state of Kentucky,” Henderson said.
He said the Transportation Cabinet is working on a bill to make those changes for the General Assembly that starts in January.
“We’ll try to get that through as fast as we can,” said Sen. Ernie Harris, the chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee.
Other details of Kentucky’s approach will fall to Gov.-elect Andy Beshear’s administration, which takes over in December.
Henderson said the new administration will have to decide if people can apply for the IDs at any of the regional centers or only the one closest to them.
Right now, for example, the Transportation Cabinet takes applications at its Frankfort headquarters from Franklin and Anderson County residents only. It expects to let Scott County residents apply there soon.
Kentucky had planned to let people get the licenses at their local circuit court clerk offices, but that plan was scrapped in September amid concerns about the clerks’ workload.
The state faces an October 2020 deadline to have the Real IDs available. That’s when the Transportation Security Administration and other U.S. agencies no longer will accept Kentucky’s current licenses to board domestic flights or get into federal facilities like military bases and government buildings.
At that point, Kentuckians would need the Real ID license or a passport or other valid ID to get on a plane or enter those facilities.
Henderson said “minor” construction is occurring at some of the sites, while Transportation Cabinet employees are being to process the applications.
This story will be updated.