Kentucky forced into problematic ID law


The Kentucky State Capitol in Frankfort, Ky., on Wednesday, February 19, 2014. Photo by Eleanor Hasken | Staff


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A new law changing ID procedures and forcing Kentuckians to reidentify themselves has passed the Kentucky legislature and is moving on to Gov. Matt Bevin’s desk. The law is problematic, but Kentucky is being forced by the federal government to pass it through.

This law — Senate Bill 245 — puts Kentucky in compliance with the federal Real ID Act of 2005.

“Ever since 9/11, the feds have required that we go to a Real ID to identify that you are who you say you are,” said state Sen. Ernie Harris (R-Crestwood), sponsor of SB 245.

Many states, including Kentucky, have yet to comply with this federal requirement. In 2009, a unanimous 100-0 vote in the Kentucky House of Representatives instructed the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet to not comply with the requirement.

However, approaching deadlines are forcing Kentucky’s hand in a new direction.

“The real kicker is, on Oct. 1, 2020, … if you don’t have either a Real ID or a passport, you will not be allowed to fly domestically within the U.S.,” Harris said.

According to Harris, Kentucky’s current extension for this federal requirement runs out in October this year. If Kentucky doesn’t pass something to show the feds that they are going to comply, the state might not be able to get another extension.

One of the main benefits for this law is that it will tighten up identification procedures to ensure safety. All of the new ID’s will have a star in the corner to signify federal identification. 

However, this law will adversely affect Kentucky’s poor and indigent.

Currently, Kentuckians can renew their license without having to reidentify themselves. Only those getting an ID for their first time have to bring supporting documentation.

Under the new law, Kentuckians will have to procure a birth certificate and two proofs of residency when they go to get their Real ID. Without these, one can only get a star-less ID and will need a passport to be able to fly on planes.

The other issue is with the cost. Four year renewals for $20 are being replaced by eight year licenses for $48. This higher up-front cost will be especially difficult for Kentucky, since the state ranks 45th on poverty according to the World Atlas.

Hence, easy access to transportation and voting identification are changed by this bill.

“We have to do something,” Harris said. “We need to pass this bill so that we can create the new ID card … so that eventually, a few years down the road, you can fly domestically without a passport.”