March 22, 2023

REAL ID extension comes at a good time for Kentucky

Kentucky residents now have more time to acquire the identification that eventually will be needed for adults to fly domestically or enter federal buildings. OnTuesday, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas extended the deadline for enforcement of REAL ID to May 3, 2023.

The previous deadline had been Oct. 1, and that too had been an extension.

In a statement Tuesday, Mayorkas cited the coronavirus as the reason to push the deadline back 19 months.

“As our country continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, extending the REAL ID full enforcement deadline will give states needed time to reopen their driver’s licensing operations and ensure their residents can obtain a REAL ID-compliant license or identification card,” he said.

While all 50 states, the District of Columbia and four of the country’s five territories now have regulations that are compliant with security standards for the driver’s licenses and personal identification cards, less than half of all Americans currently carry identification that meets that standard.

As most states have extended deadlines to renew licenses and required appointments to get them, just 43% of all state-issued licenses and cards now issued meet REAL ID guidelines.

Congress passed the REAL ID Act in 2005 in wake of the 9/11 Commission’s recommendation that the federal government create minimum security standards for personal identification cards, including driver’s licenses.

The extension comes as Kentucky is moving its licensing centers from circuit court clerks in each of the state’s 120 counties to regional centers operated by the state’s Transportation Cabinet.

The regional centers will be the only places in Kentucky the issue REAL ID-compliant licenses and identification cards.

The extension was a “prudent move,” according to Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear.

“We are rolling out a modern, efficient network of KYTC Driver Licensing Regional Offices to issue all REAL ID-compliant licenses and identification cards,” he said. “These offices have and continue to operate at limited capacity to meet social distancing and other ‘Healthy at Work’ requirements.”

On Monday, nine counties across the state stopped issuing in-person licenses. Remote applications for renewal or replacement licenses, though, will be allowed until June 30 in every county except Fayette. Remote renewal was established because of the pandemic.

Adair, Breathitt, Floyd, Hopkins, Madison, McCracken, Pulaski, Rowan and Russell counties joined Fayette, Franklin and Woodford in transitioning to the new system. The remaining counties will make the transition by June 30, 2022.

Currently, the state has 18 regional centers established, with more planned to open.

Kentucky Transportation Secretary Jim Gray called the extension a grace period but said the state still encourages those who want REAL ID-compliant identification to get one as soon as possible.

Kentucky was one of the last states to implement REAL ID standards.

Back in 2016, the Kentucky General Assembly passed a bill that would have established those standards. However, then-Gov. Matt Bevin, who had encouraged lawmakers to pass the bill, surprisingly vetoed it after some residents expressed concerns about privacy issues.

A year later, Bevin signed a bill into law that gives residents a choice between a REAL ID or a standard license that would not be acceptable at airports, nuclear power plants, military installations, federal courthouses and other federal government buildings.

This article was originally posted on REAL ID extension comes at a good time for Kentucky

Sydney Boles