FRANKFORT, Ky. — Kentucky is the only state the relies on the county court system to issue driver’s licenses, and House Bill 453 looks to change that at the same time the commonwealth starts issuing the new Real IDs.
The federal government put stricter standards on IDs following 9/11, but several states have been slow to adjust. Kentucky has until October to comply with the new standards, which require a new ID to fly domestically or to step foot in some federal buildings, like courthouses.
Kentucky is setting up 12 to 14 regional offices by the summer to help people get those IDs.
“Bottom line, our goal is to deliver for Kentuckians who want a Real ID before the October 1 enforcement deadline,” Kentucky Transportation Cabinet Secretary Jim Gray said.
HB 453 would move all licensing functions to the Transportation Cabinet and the Real ID regional offices by June 2022.
It would also add more items you could use to verify your identity, like property tax bills, car registrations, even your current driver’s license.
“This is a big hurdle. We’re going to make it one step at a time,” state Rep. Sal Santoro, R-Florence, said. “It’s a federal mandate, but as long as they read or they have the correct documentation, the Transportation Department is going to issue the correct identifications for them to have the Real ID.”
Some lawmakers have concerns that there won’t be enough regional transportation offices to accommodate the need for new IDs.
Because the number of regional offices will be significantly less than the current number of county courthouses where someone can get a driver’s license or other state ID, some people may have to drive a couple of hours to get to the closest one.
State Rep. Maria Sorolis, D-Louisville, said that’ll be a concern with the possibility of a new Voter ID law.
“Your end product may be the best end product going, but if I can’t get there, it doesn’t do me a hell of beans good, so that’s my main concern,” Sorolis said.
Santoro, House Bill 453’s main sponsor, said people will have plenty of time to make arrangements to get their proper ID so they can vote.
“There is time for them to get out there and get it. They just don’t have to think, ‘Oh, I’m going to go vote tomorrow.’ They know if they’re going to go vote,” Santoro said. “Now’s the time to just go locally and get it, and then eventually when we open these new offices, it’ll be ready for them.”
The bill also includes creates a mobile office that would travel to each county that doesn’t have a regional office at least twice a year.
Kentuckians with a passport or military I-D would not need to get a Real I-D to fly domestically.