Kentucky’s decision to ignore federal security regulations for driver’s licenses will begin inconveniencing residents in coming weeks, and the pain is expected to become widespread by early next year.
Beginning Jan. 30, Kentuckians no longer will be able to use their driver’s licenses to enter the two military bases in the state — Fort Knox and Fort Campbell. If Kentucky does not comply with the REAL ID regulations by Jan. 22, 2018, residents won’t be able to use their state-issued license to board planes for domestic flights.
If Kentucky is still out of compliance at that time, passengers would 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.
The Kentucky General Assembly this year once again is trying to make Kentucky compliant with Real ID. It passed a bill last year to do that but Republican Gov. Matt Bevin, who once supported the measure, surprised many people and vetoed it. He said there was tremendous opposition and misunderstanding about the bill.
Several members of the Tea Party, who heavily backed Bevin’s run for governor, had expressed concerns about too much federal intervention in people’s private lives.
Bevin also said it was important that Kentucky voters be allowed to see what effect, if any, the next presidential election had on the issue.
Bevin spokeswoman Amanda Stamper said Friday that state officials have been in contact with the Department of Homeland Security and officials in President-elect Donald Trump’s administration.
“We are actively working to secure a short extension like the one granted in recent days to Oklahoma, while we determine what additional actions may be required by Kentucky,” Stamper said. “We are confident that we will achieve resolution to this matter during the current legislative session.”
State Rep. Jim DuPlessis, R-Elizabethtown, has filed House Bill 77, a measure similar to the one Bevin vetoed last year.
DuPlessis, in an interview, said Kentucky will comply with the federal regulations, either through his bill or new federal directions from Trump’s administration.
DuPlessis noted that Trump has named Elaine Chao, wife of U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Louisville, to be his transportation secretary.
If the Trump administration has not told Kentucky anything by the end of March, when this year’s legislative session ends, the state “will have to do something,” DuPlessis said. “We don’t want angry people finding out next January they can’t get on a plane because they don’t have the right driver’s license.”
The state Transportation Cabinet, which issues driver’s licenses, is waiting for further direction, said cabinet spokesman Ryan Watts.
Congress passed the Real ID Act in 2005, acting on recommendations from the 9/11 Commission. The law sets up minimum security standards for state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards and prohibits federal agencies from accepting for official purposes licenses and identification cards from states that do not meet these standards.
The new IDs are not required to apply for federal benefits or to enter federal courthouses and most federal agencies, such as Social Security and Veterans Affairs offices.
The federal government last year did not grant Kentucky’s request to renew an extension that would give it more time to comply with the law.
DuPlessis’ bill basically makes changes to Kentucky driver’s license application process to bring the state into compliance with Real ID. It is optional, he said.
Under his bill, the entire process to get a driver’s license will no longer occur only at the circuit clerk’s office. Applicants would apply to the clerk, have their photo taken and receive a temporary license good for 30 days.
The license would then be produced at a secure facility and mailed to the cardholder, much the same way credit cards are mailed.
To obtain a Real ID-compliant license, applicants will have to bring additional identifying documents, such as a birth certificate, Social Security card and proof of address.
Those who opt to get a traditional license without the added security features would receive a temporary license from the clerk and get a permanent one in the mail within 30 days.
Under HB 77, licenses and ID cards would be issued every eight years instead of every four. The cost for an eight-year license would be $48, and is the same for either a non-enhanced or enhanced license. The current cost of a license is $20 for 4 years.
Even if the law passes, it’s likely that long lines will form if most residents attempt to upgrade their license in a short period of time. “The state will have to deal with it,” DuPlessis said.
A common misconception about the legislation is that it would make it easier for illegal immigrants to obtain a Kentucky driver’s licenses, DuPlessis said. “That is not true.”
DuPlessis also stressed that a valid military ID still may be used as a credential to enter military bases in Kentucky and that civilians have until Jan. 30 to request a six-month pass to the bases.
For non-military individuals to enter Kentucky’s Fort Knox or Fort Campbell beginning Jan. 30, they must present one of the following documents:
▪ United States passport or United States passport card
▪ PIV-I Card (personnel identification verification-interoperable) issued by the federal government
▪ U.S. military ID (all members of the U.S. Armed Forces, including retirees and dependent ID card holders and veterans)
▪ Veteran health identification card issued by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
▪ Department of Homeland Security “trusted traveler” cards (Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, FAST)
▪ Transportation worker identification card
▪ U.S. Coast Guard Merchant Mariner card
▪ Driver’s license issued by the U.S. Department of State
▪ Border crossing card
▪ U.S. Certificate of Naturalization or Certificate of Citizenship (Form-550)
▪ Permanent resident card/alien registration receipt card (Form I-551)
▪ Foreign passport with a temporary (I-551) stamp or temporary (I-551) printed notation on a machine readable immigrant visa
▪ U.S. refugee travel document to other travel document of evidence of immigration status issued by the Department of Homeland Security containing a photograph (permit to re-enter form I-327 and Refugee Travel Document Form I-571)
▪ Employment authorization document that contains a photograph issued by the DHS (Form I-766) - in case of non-immigrant alien authorized to work for a specific employer incident to status, a foreign passport with Form I-94 or Form I-94A bearing same name as passport and containing an endorsement of the alien’s non-immigrant status, as long as the endorsement has not expired and proposed employment is not in conflict with restrictions or limitations identified on the form.
▪ Identification card issued by federal, state, or local government agencies provided it contains a photograph and biographic information such as name, date of birth, gender, height, eye color and address.
▪ U.S. military or draft record (Certified copy of DD Form 214)
▪ Native American tribal document
▪ Foreign government issued passport with current arrival-departure records (INS Form 94) bearing names as the same name as the passport and containing an endorsement of an alien’s nonimmigrant status, it that status authorizes the alien to work for the employer
▪ Select university, library, or school cards containing a photograph, name and expiration date
▪ Non-government photo identification with a person’s name and address
▪ Birth certificate or document with a person’s full name and address
▪ Utility bill or other documentation showing a person’s name and address
▪ Vehicle registration with name and address
▪ License To Carry/Carry Concealed Deadly Weapon permit containing a photograph
Visitors from non-compliant states who cannot provide supplemental documentation must be escorted by a Department of Defense-credentialed person at all times while on the installation.