Kentucky will seek another extension for REAL ID compliance, vehicle regulations commissioner tells legislative panel

06/23/2016 05:37 PM

FRANKFORT — The state will seek an extension to come into compliance with the federal REAL ID law, Department of Vehicle Regulations Commissioner John Mark Hack told lawmakers on the Budget Review Subcommittee on Transportation on Thursday.

The General Assembly passed a bill in this year’s legislative session, Senate Bill 245, that would have put Kentucky in compliance with the identification law passed in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Gov. Matt Bevin, who had urged lawmakers to pass the bill, ultimately vetoed SB 245, saying the matter deserved further debate.

Hack told legislators on Thursday that the state will seek another extension to comply with the law, saying that many current licensing procedures fall in line with the federal mandate. Officials will seek accommodations from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on other aspects of the federal law, he said.

Kentucky is one of 24 states currently under an extension, which expires Oct. 10, for the REAL ID law, and Hack said Virginia and California are also seeking additional time from DHS.

“I strongly believe that these recommendations that we plan to offer to DHS would offer relief to us, to other states still working toward compliance and to be of benefit to states that are already issuing compliant licenses and IDs,” Hack said.

“We currently require legal proof of residence,” he continued. “We electronically verify all Social Security numbers. We have an expanded electronic record that meets the federal requirements. We fall within the criteria for the maximum timeframe of our issued credentials. Our employees have been trained in fraudulent document recognition.”

The state will request leeway from DHS on certain pieces of the REAL ID law, Hack said. Among them, Hack listed requirements to verify Social Security numbers before renewing licenses and retaining images of Social Security proof documents to prevent fraud.

Kentucky has mechanisms in place to prosecute those who seek licenses via fraudulent documents, he said.

With the Oct. 10 deadline approaching, Rep. Dennis Keene said a constituent recently asked him whether her family would need to obtain passports for a trip in November.

“Her question was to me, if we’re not granted this, then she’d have to get passports,” said Keene, D-Wilder. “Is that right?”

Hack said that provision — in which residents of non-compliant states must use other forms of identification approved by the Transportation Security Administration, like passports, to board domestic flights – takes effect in January 2018.

He believes the state will be considered a compliant state by DHS by then, he said.

“Their concerns, the concerns of personal travelers and the concerns of business travelers are of paramount importance to us,” Hack said. “They’re top priorities, and we’re keenly aware of those restrictions. We fly as well, and we don’t want Kentucky citizens to fall under undue burdens, and we’re going to be working diligently to prevent that.”

Rep. Leslie Combs, a Pikeville Democrat who co-chairs to Budget Review Subcommittee on Transportation, said she thought issues with SB 245 had been ironed out by the General Assembly in the closing days of this year’s legislative session. The Senate passed the legislation on a 26-12 vote on March 22, followed by a 59-40 vote in the House on April 15.

She said she’s unsure whether DHS would grant Kentucky’s request for another extension, and she has asked Hack to brief the subcommittee at its October meeting.

“I have no feel for it,” Combs told reporters after the meeting. “It’s pretty well been laid out there, and the circumstances and the timelines around REAL ID have been out there for some time, so for the federal government to give us another extension, I don’t know that I’m in a good position to answer that because he’s (Hack) obviously much closer to it in working with it than I am.”

“He says he thinks we have a good case,” she continued. “That’s why I’m saying OK, we’re going to come back in October and find out if we did.”

Kevin Wheatley

Kevin Wheatley is a reporter for Pure Politics. He joined cn|2 in September 2014 after five years at The State Journal in Frankfort, where he covered Kentucky government and politics. You can reach him at kevin.wheatley@charter.com or 502-792-1135 and follow him on Twitter at @KWheatley_cn2.

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