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Ahead Of October Deadline, REAL ID Bill Nears Final Passage In Legislature

Kentucky Transportation Cabinet

Kentuckians will be able to use more documents to obtain REAL ID licenses under a bill nearing final passage in the state legislature.

The measure would add property tax bills, current driver’s licenses and postmarked mail less than a year old to the list of documents Kentuckians can use to prove their identities to get the enhanced-security ID cards.

The bill comes as Kentucky is scrambling to get more citizens outfitted with REAL IDs and setting up regional offices around the state for citizens to obtain them.

Sarah Jackson, the REAL ID project manager for the state Transportation Cabinet, said that the five offices that have already opened up will be shut down amid the coronavirus epidemic. Ultimately, more offices will be open.

“We anticipate there will be 18 to 24, and it will be more on the 24 side of offices throughout the commonwealth,” Jackson said.

Starting Oct 1, conventional driver’s licenses will no longer be accepted for boarding domestic plane flights because of the 2005 federal REAL ID act, which requires states to centralize their driver’s licensing systems and improve security.

Kentucky has had several hiccups implementing the policy, from former Gov. Matt Bevin vetoing a REAL ID bill to the state last year scrapping a plan for the IDs to be issued by local circuit court clerks.

Five regional REAL ID centers have already been set up in Frankfort, Somerset, Paducah Bowling Green and Morehead.

The House Bill 453 would also centralize all driver’s licensing operations in the state under the state Transportation Cabinet, with local clerks no longer issuing drivers licensing starting July 2022.

The bill would also create a mobile REAL ID unit that would be required to visit every county in the state at least twice per year.

Greg Helton, president of the Kentucky Association of Circuit Court Clerks, says he supports the move.

“It’s cumbersome to go to two different places to get a driver’s license,” Helton said. “You should go to where the person doing the issuing of that license has the authority to correct something if there’s something wrong.”

The bill passed out of the Senate Transportation Committee on Wednesday and can now be voted on by the full Senate. It has already passed out of the House.

Sen. Stephen Meredith, a Republican from Leitchfield, voted against the bill, saying it would make life harder for rural Kentuckians.

“Either overtly or covertly, we are making it increasingly difficult for people to live in rural communities,” Meredith said. “You may say all you got to do is drive to Louisville or Lexington, but you don’t understand for some people, even that creates a financial burden.”

Kentuckians applying for a REAL ID need to provide 1. Proof of identity like a birth certificate or passport 2. Proof of social security like a social security card or tax form and 3. Proof of address, which under the bill would include:

·      Utility bill that is less than one year old

·      Current lease or rental agreement

·      Bank statement that is less than one year old

·      Mortgage statement

·      Telephone bill that is less than one year old

·      Current insurance policy

·      State or federal tax return that is less than one year old

·      Pay slip or salary statement that is less than one year old

·      Record from an educational institution in Kentucky

·      Kentucky voter registration card that is less than one year old

·      Current property tax bill

·      Current vehicle registration

·      Current operator’s license, instruction permit, or personal identification card

·      Postmarked mail that is less than one year old

·      Internal Revenue Service forms W-2 or 1099 from the most recent tax year available

Ryland Barton is the Managing Editor for Collaboratives for Kentucky Public Radio, a group of public radio stations including WKMS, WFPL in Louisville, WEKU in Richmond and WKYU in Bowling Green. A native of Lexington, Ryland most recently served as the Capitol Reporter for Kentucky Public Radio. He has covered politics and state government for NPR member stations KWBU in Waco and KUT in Austin.
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