Rep. Steve Riggs says new driver’s license system is substandard and “will cause anguish” for drivers

State Representative Steve Riggs

Calling out Gov. Matt Bevin for his 2016 veto of legislation that would have sensibly brought Kentucky’s driver’s licenses into compliance with federal law, state Rep. Steve Riggs told a Transportation Cabinet official on Wednesday that the new system ultimately adopted is substandard and would cause “a lot of anguish.”

Rep. Riggs of Louisville made his comments during a presentation by Dept. of Vehicle Regulation Commissioner Matt Henderson, who appeared before the General Assembly’s Transportation Committee in Wayne County to highlight how the cabinet will begin issuing two types of driver’s licenses in 2019.

“For some reason, the cabinet has chosen to call these the ‘Standard Credential’ and the ‘Voluntary Travel ID,’” Rep. Riggs said. “Those getting or renewing their licenses will be confused about which one to get. I guarantee many with the standard credential will almost certainly be upset when they find out they can no longer use it to board a plane or enter a federal government facility like Fort Knox or Fort Campbell down the road. The cabinet should call these a ‘standard’ and a ‘substandard’ ID, because that’s what they are.”

The need for an updated driver’s license system began in 2005, when Congress passed the REAL ID law as a homeland-security measure. States had a set amount of time to implement changes so their citizens could still use their driver’s license to board domestic flights and enter federal facilities, but Kentucky lagged most and has since received extensions following Gov. Bevin’s 2016 veto of a bill he had previously supported.

The state is rolling out the new driver’s license (and personal ID) system in January. It will cost more to obtain or renew, but renewals will eventually be every eight years instead of four. Those who opt for the “Standard Credential” will need a passport or other federally approved credential to board domestic flights, enter military installations or even visit the White House and the U.S. Capitol building, beginning in October 2020. Those choosing the “Voluntary Travel ID,” will need to provide more documentation initially, but they will still be able to do those activities using only their driver’s license.

“For a governor who prides himself on removing regulations, I cannot fathom why he thinks creating two types of driver’s licenses is a positive move,” Rep. Riggs said. “It’s duplicative, wasteful, confusing and more expensive. My hope is that we eventually come to our senses and make it so there is only one type of driver’s license. We need the stronger form of identification that keeps us safer, and it’s a heck of a lot of easier to understand.”

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