Editorials

Does Kentucky really want to impose a financial penalty on business travelers?

UPDATE: Good news, Kentucky travelers.

The House approved the Real ID bill on Tuesday afternoon by a 77-19 vote.

Now it’s on to the Senate, where it should be smooth sailing, and then to Gov. Matt Bevin, who has indicated he will allow this year’s version of the bill to become law.

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This editorial was posted Tuesday morning, before the House vote:

Even without a federal deadline hanging over it, Kentucky would be smart to centralize the issuance of driver’s licenses for both efficiency and security reasons.

If Kentucky again fails to comply with the 2005 Real ID law, it will amount to imposing a $55 surcharge on business travelers — and any other Kentuckians who want to board a domestic commercial flight but don’t have a passport.

A passport card, which, unlike a passport book, does not work for international travel but will get you on a domestic flight, costs $55. Such a penalty on travel by Kentuckians would jarringly conflict with the pro-business message our Republican legislative majority and governor are trying to send.

Unless the legislature acts, beginning next January, a Kentucky driver’s license will no longer work for boarding a commercial flight. It will no longer work for entering a military base, beginning June 6, according to Rep. Jim DuPlessis, R- Elizabethtown, sponsor of House Bill 410 which would put Kentucky in compliance with the law.

Under HB 410, Kentuckians who do not want a travel-compliant driver’s license could opt out and would not be required to submit their birth certificate and Social Security card for scanning into a state database. All Kentucky driver’s licenses would be good for eight years, and HB 410 even gives a $5 break to those who don’t want an enhanced license.

Kentucky is one of seven states that are out of compliance with the law that was enacted by a Republican Congress because of the ease with which some 9/11 suicide hijackers boarded flights by showing state driver’s licenses.

Gov. Matt Bevin blindsided lawmakers last year by vetoing the bill after urging them to pass it. Bevin had second thoughts after far-right fringe groups complained.

Bevin has said he supports this year’s bill, but time is running short. The House should approve HB 410 today.

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