FRANKFORT (AP) — Kentuckians who want to fly anywhere in the United States would have to pay $48 to get a new driver’s license beginning in 2019 under a bill that is moving through the state legislature.
The bill would update Kentucky’s driver’s license procedures to comply with the federal Real ID Act. The new driver’s licenses would be optional. But anyone who does not have a new license by Oct. 1, 2020, would have to use a U.S. passport, a passport card some other acceptable form of identification to board a domestic flight. It cost $135 to get a passport and takes about 6 weeks get one. A passport card cost $55 and cannot be used for international travel.
The Federal Real ID Act took effect in 2005 and was a response to the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. Legislative leaders in many states opposed the law over privacy concerns, fearing it would create a national database of driver information or give the federal government access to people’s personal information. In 2009, the Kentucky House of Representatives voted 100-0 on a resolution instructing the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet to not comply with the federal law.
But Thursday, House Transportation Committee Chairman Hubert Collins changed his mind.
“In spite of what we said seven years ago, circumstances have changed,” said Collins, a Democrat from Wittenesville. “Thousands of Kentuckians will be financially burdened if they are not allowed to get their voluntary IDs.”
To date, 23 states have complied with the federal law. Kentucky is one of 25 states that has an extension. But that extension expires Oct. 10. Beginning Jan. 22, 2018, anyone living in a state that has not complied with the law and does not have an extension would have to show a U.S. passport or passport card to board a domestic flight.
Kentucky officials plan to apply for a second extension. But Department of Vehicle Regulations Commissioner Rodney Khul said the federal government will mostly likely deny that request unless the Kentucky legislature passes this bill.
“Time is of the essence,” Kuhl told House lawmakers on Thursday, adding it will take about two years to award a contract to a new vendor to put the new procedures in place.
To get the new license, Kentuckians would have to show their birth certificate and two proofs of residency. Kentucky already requires these documents to obtain a license for the first time, but does not require the documents to renew a license. The new licenses would cost $48 and would be good for eight years, or $6 per year. Current licenses cost $20 and are good for four years, or $5 per year.
The new license would have a star in the top right corner, surrounded by a gold circle. All other information on the license would stay the same. People who choose not to get a new license would still pay $48. But they would not have to show their birth certificate and two proofs of residency. Their license would not have the gold star, but the words “Not for federal identification” would be stamped across the top of the license.
The bill has already passed the state Senate by a vote of 26-12. The bill cleared the House Transportation Committee on Thursday by a vote of 15-5.
“The process we are going through with this Real ID is the federal government’s overreach,” said Republican Rep. Tim Couch of Hyden.