Politics & Government

House approves revamped Real ID driver license bill, sends it to Senate

Kentuckians are one step closer to being spared from using their passports to fly next year.

The Kentucky House passed House Bill 410 Tuesday, a Real ID law that would bring Kentucky in compliance with federal regulations for drivers licenses.

Members felt a particular urgency to pass the bill, because if the state did not come into compliance with the federal regulations Kentuckians would not be able to use their drivers licenses to get on to military bases starting June 6 and on airplanes starting January 22, 2018.

If the bill passes the Senate and is signed by the governor, State Rep. Jim DuPlessis, R-Elizabethtown, said Kentucky would be granted an extension while the state came into compliance with the law and the state would start issuing the federally approved licenses in 2019.

For weeks the bill stalled in the House as DuPlessis tried to resolve problems raised by both Democrats and Republicans.

“There are certain groups out there that think that the government is taking more and more of the states’ rights, and that this is a state right,” DuPlessis said.

DuPlessis said the biggest hangup was that people’s birth certificates would be scanned and sent to the federal government in order to issue the approved driver’s licenses.

“That’s one thing they didn’t want to have happen because of fear of identity theft,” DuPlessis said. “If your birth certificate is out and someone gets ahold of that through a data breach, then the fear was that they could steal your identity.”

DuPlessis addressed those concerns with an amendment that allows people to use their passport or a permanent identification card instead of a birth certificate to get their federally approved driver’s license.

Last year, Gov. Matt Bevin urged the House and Senate to pass a similar bill, only to veto it when it arrived on his desk. Bevin has assured members he supports this version of the bill.

“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 last week.

While DuPlessis expected a long debate on the issue, the bill passed 77-19 with relatively few comments.

State Rep. Jeff Greer, D-Brandenberg, and State Rep. Walker Thomas, R-Hopkinsville, both spoke in favor of the bill because they come from districts with military bases.

“Our nation has said, for our protection, that its the best thing to do,” Greer said. “So why would we not want to do it? I can’t think of any reason.”

Daniel Desrochers: 502-875-3793, @drdesrochers, @BGPolitics