The federal government has denied Kentucky’s request for a one-year extension to comply with regulations known as Real ID, requiring tougher standards for driver’s licenses and identification cards.
The immediate effects on Kentucky residents are minimal, but if the state does not comply by 2018 residents won’t be able to use their state-issued license to board planes for domestic flights.
Gov. Matt Bevin earlier this year vetoed legislation that would have put Kentucky into compliance.
The new driver’s license would have been optional under the vetoed legislation, which would have raised the drivers’ license fee to $48 from $20 and made licenses good for eight years instead of four years. It also would have required residents to bring their birth certificates and Social Security cards when renewing their license.
Bevin said it became clear in this year’s legislative session that there was tremendous opposition and misunderstanding about the bill that he had initially supported.
The Republican governor said it is important that “Kentucky’s voters have the ability to see what effect, if any, the next presidential administration will have on this issue.”
The proposal is expected to be taken up again in Kentucky’s 2017 General Assembly, which begins in January.
U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Louisville, criticized Bevin for his veto this year.
“While I question whether Real ID provides an improved level of security that justifies the costs, Kentucky simply can’t ignore the law,” Yarmuth said Wednesday. “It’s unfortunate that Gov. Bevin vetoed the bicameral, bipartisan agreement that would have prevented further headaches for Kentucky travelers and residents.”
The state Transportation Cabinet said in a news release that the denial by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security “comes in spite of recent documented progress the state has made to further enhance the security of its driver’s license and ID card issuance system. Despite the denial, Kentucky will continue efforts to modernize its system of issuance for these credentials.”
Beginning January 10, 2017, some federal facilities, including all nuclear power plants, will not accept Kentucky driver’s licenses and identification cards to gain entry, the state warned Wednesday. The federal government gave Kentucky a grace period until Jan. 30, 2017, for entering its two military bases: Fort Knox and Fort Campbell, said Transportation Cabinet spokesman Ryan Watts.
Watts also said the denial of the extension does not affect entering Social Security and Veterans Affairs offices and federal courthouses and applying for federal benefits.
The federal government will begin Real ID enforcement for boarding commercial aircraft on Jan. 22, 2018. If Kentucky is still out of compliance by that date, then passengers may be required to use another form of identification, such as a passport, passport card or U.S. military ID. It costs $135 to get a passport and takes about six weeks to get one. A passport card costs $55 and cannot be used for international travel.
In a letter Tuesday to Kentucky Vehicle Regulation Commissioner John-Mark Hack, the federal government said Homeland Security recognizes Kentucky efforts in enhancing the security of its driver’s licenses and identification cards but it is unable to grant an extension.
The letter said Homeland Security’s review found that Kentucky “has not committed to meeting all remaining requirements and has not provided adequate justification for continued noncompliance.”