Bill that would make state compliant with REAL ID clears House budget committee

02/28/2017 02:37 PM

FRANKFORT — Legislation that would put the state in compliance with the federal REAL ID law cleared the House Appropriations and Revenue Committee on a 23-3 vote Tuesday.

House Bill 410, sponsored by Rep. Jim Duplessis, would create an optional “voluntary travel” drivers’ license that would meet security requirements in the federal law passed in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks on the World Trade Center.

The legislation comes a year after Gov. Matt Bevin lobbied for, and then vetoed, a similar bill. Kentucky is currently on an extension until June 6 to come into compliance with the REAL ID law, and John-Mark Hack, head of the Department of Vehicle Regulation, said the federal government will work with the state in the transition if HB 410, which would take effect in 2019, becomes law.

Under the bill, regular and voluntary travel IDs would be renewed every eight years rather than every four and cost $43 and $48, respectively, to receive and renew. It costs $20 to renew a license currently. The bill also requires immigrants who are not permanent residents pay a $30 application fee that will go into the state road fund.

DuPlessis, an Elizabethtown Republican who voted against last year’s attempt to comply with REAL ID, said this year’s offering has a number of key changes, such as eliminating the need to retain copies of applicants’ birth certificates and Social Security cards in all instances.

That will only be required for those seeking a voluntary travel ID, which will be required to enter military bases and board domestic flights, under the bill. Those who opt for a traditional license will need a passport or other personal identifying information to get access to both.

DuPlessis told reporters that he expects HB 410 to get a floor vote this week and that Bevin has said that he supports the measure.

“He feels like the provisions that he was concerned about last year have been addressed,” DuPlessis said, adding that he feels “very comfortable” that the legislation won’t be vetoed if passed by the General Assembly.

The legislation had some opposition in the House budget committee hearing. Joseph Redmon, of Brandenburg, urged lawmakers on the panel to vote against HB 410 with states’ rights in mind.

Passing HB 410 would essentially put the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in charge of Kentucky’s licensing program, he said.

“What happens when they want to put that you’re a Democrat on your license or they want to put that you’re Muslim or how many guns you own?” Redmon asked. “We are handing that power over to the federal government, and it’s ours.”

DuPlessis disagreed with Redmon’s assessment, saying DHS “is not in charge of our licenses.”

“However, the federal government is in charge of safety of interstate travel, (Transportation Security Administration), so they do get to control what we do in our state travel-wise, which is why they’ve implemented a program called, they call it REAL ID,” he said.

“And the purpose of REAL ID is to make sure that we don’t have people using ID theft to get on an airplane so they can be a terrorist to use that as a missile against American soil.”

Three Republicans — Reps. Brian Linder, Phillip Pratt and Sal Santoro — voted against HB 410, but DuPlessis said the legislation has support from most in the House GOP caucus.

Rep. Russell Webber, R-Shepherdsville, said the optional nature of HB 410 earned his support.

“If it wasn’t voluntary I would have some issues with it, but I think the sponsor’s worked this in,” he said. “This is voluntary. People have options here.”

DuPlessis, speaking to reporters, says he understands concerns of federal overreach that some in his caucus have expressed on HB 410.

“Which is why we put in the provisions for the bill to take out and allow Kentucky citizens not to send their birth certificate, their birth ID papers to the federal government,” he said. “That still will stay in Kentucky. In fact, you don’t even have to scan it if you don’t want to.”

Kevin Wheatley

Kevin Wheatley is a Video Journalist for Spectrum News and covers Kentucky politics and all the goings-on at the State Capitol. Kevin was born and raised in Frankfort so he grew up around politics and has always had the drive to follow the political process and hold lawmakers accountable. Before joining Spectrum News Kevin covered government and politics for The State Journal in Frankfort. You can watch Kevin’s work weeknights at 7:00 and 11:30 on Pure Politics, available exclusively on Spectrum News, HD Channels 403 and 715. You can reach him at kevin.wheatley@charter.com or 502-792-1135.

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