Federal Government to Stop Recognizing Kentucky & Pennsylvania Driver’s Licenses as ID

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Photo courtesy: Diliff
Photo courtesy: Diliff

This may sound like a fake news headline or “click bait”, unfortunately for residents of the Commonwealths of Kentucky and Pennsylvania (along with five other states), it’s neither of the two, and these individuals may soon be feeling the heavy hand of the Federal government the next time they attempt to enter a facility controlled by the United States ‘gubment’.

Back in May 2005, Congress passed “The REAL ID Act of 2005“, an Act of Congress that modifies U.S. federal law pertaining to security, authentication, and standards for the state driver’s licenses and identity documents.

The law set forth requirements for state driver’s licenses and ID cards to be accepted by the federal government for “official purposes”, as defined by the Secretary of the United States Department of Homeland Security (called DHS hereafter). The Secretary of Homeland Security has currently defined “official purposes” as boarding commercially operated airline flights and entering federal buildings and nuclear power plants, although the law gives the Secretary the unlimited authority to require a “federal identification” for any other purposes.

In late-2013, the DHS announced that implementation of Phase 1 would begin on January 20, 2014, which followed a yearlong period of “deferred enforcement”. There are four planned phases, the first three apply to entering DHS headquarters, nuclear power plants, and certain federal facilities (such as tourists visiting Fort Knox and potentially visitors touring Congress and the White House or Federal courthouses).

Beginning in January of next year, “passengers with a driver’s license issued by a state that is still not compliant with the REAL ID Act (and has not been granted an extension) will need to show an alternative form of acceptable identification for domestic air travel to board their flight”, stated the Department of Homeland Security.

Critics, however, complain that REAL ID is an overreach by the Federal government and serves only to collects citizens’ personal information while doing little to prevent terrorism.

Nevertheless, the DHS contends that seven states are presently being listed as non-compliant with the Federal law: Maine, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Missouri, Minnesota, Montana and Washington.

The Department of Homeland Security issued the following generic statement for the seven states deemed “not compliant”: “[Not Compliant State] is not in compliance with the REAL ID Act, has not been granted a renewed extension, and will be subject to REAL ID enforcement following a short grace period. Starting January 30, 2017, Federal agencies and nuclear power plants may not accept for official purposes driver’s licenses and state identification cards from [Not Compliant State].”

The department went on to state, “Secure driver’s licenses and identification documents are a vital component of a holistic national security strategy. Law enforcement must be able to rely on government-issued identification documents and know that the bearer of such a document is who he or she claims to be. REAL ID is a coordinated effort by the states and the Federal Government to improve the reliability and accuracy of state-issued identification documents, which should inhibit terrorists’ ability to evade detection by using fraudulent identification.”

What exactly this means for the residents of these seven state that are on the Federal government’s “naughty list” isn’t exactly known; however, local media in Kentucky are reporting that as of January 30th, residents of the Bluegrass state will be required to cough up some other form of I.D. in order to be permitted access to certain Federal facilities, including those wishing to tour Fort Knox… which is located just south of Louisville, in Kentucky.

The Governor of Kentucky issued the following statement, via Twitter Saturday regarding the matter:


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