Politics & Government

Revamped Real ID driver license bill gains support from lawmakers and Bevin

Kate Miller of the ACLU of Kentucky explained her group’s opposition on Tuesday to House Bill 410, which would bring the state’s driver’s licenses into compliance with the federal REAL ID Act. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Jim DuPlessis, watched her testify.
Kate Miller of the ACLU of Kentucky explained her group’s opposition on Tuesday to House Bill 410, which would bring the state’s driver’s licenses into compliance with the federal REAL ID Act. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Jim DuPlessis, watched her testify. jcheves@herald-leader.com

The General Assembly is getting a second chance to pass a Real ID law that would make Kentucky’s driver’s licenses comply with tougher federal security standards — and let Kentuckians keep using their licenses to board commercial airline flights and enter military bases.

The House budget committee voted 22 to 3 on Tuesday to approve House Bill 410 and send it to the full House for further consideration.

The legislature passed a Real ID bill last year, but Gov. Matt Bevin vetoed it after opponents on both ends of the political spectrum raised privacy concerns. To get a license that complies with the new federal standards, Kentuckians would have to submit their birth certificate and Social Security card, which would be scanned at their local circuit court clerk’s office and stored in a state database.

Rep. Jim DuPlessis, sponsor of HB 410, said he addressed that concern in this year’s legislation by making it clear that Kentuckians have a choice: Stick with the standard license, which does not require the scanning of personal documents, or request a new and enhanced license, which does.

“I think with the option, you’ve brought us a much better bill, and I thank you for that,” Rep. Suzanne Miles, R-Owensboro, told DuPlessis during the committee hearing.

If Kentucky doesn’t comply with the federal Real ID Act by Jan. 22, 2018, residents will no longer be able to use a driver’s license to board planes, said DuPlessis, an Elizabethtown Republican. They won’t be able to enter military bases, such as Fort Knox and Fort Campbell, as of June 6.

Kentuckians would be able to produce other official documents, such as a U.S. passport or U.S. military identification, to board a plane or enter a base. However, it costs $135 and takes about six weeks to get a passport.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has indicated that it will give Kentucky “some breathing room” on those deadlines if the General Assembly passes Real ID legislation this year, DuPlessis said. Kentucky is one of only six states to be labeled not in compliance with the Real ID Act.

Bevin said later Tuesday he is now in favor of Real ID legislation.

“I support this legislation in its current form and am thankful to Rep. DuPlessis for crafting a bill that addresses the majority of concerns expressed by Kentuckians in recent months and years,” Bevin said in a written statement.

Kate Miller with the ACLU of Kentucky told the House committee that her group opposes the Real ID Act because it requires people to submit sensitive personal documents.

If Kentucky must cooperate with the law, Miller said, it should create separate state databases for dates of birth and Social Security numbers, to make it harder for one security breach to compromise both sets of numbers, and it should not permanently save scanned copies of residents’ birth certificates.

Other sections of HB 410 would make it easier for military personnel and their families, newly released felons and legal immigrants to obtain either driver’s licenses or state-issued personal identification cards.

An eight-year license that complied with the Real ID Act would cost $48. A standard license, also good for eight years, would cost $43. The current cost of a license is $20 for 4 years. Given the extra fees raised by HB 410, it’s estimated that it would produce a net increase of just under $10 million a year in revenue for the state.

John Cheves: 859-231-3266, @BGPolitics

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