- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 14, 2017

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - House Speaker Jeff Hoover says Kentucky’s Republican governor will have to testify before a legislative committee and offer his personal, public guarantee that he won’t block a bill aimed at overhauling the state’s drivers’ licenses.

Hoover - in his first year on the job since Republicans won a majority in the House for the first time in nearly 100 years - says many GOP lawmakers are anxious after Bevin asked them to pass a similar bill last year, only to veto it when he received pressure from some outside groups.

This year, the state has until June 6 to pass a bill or else risk falling out of compliance with a 12-year-old federal law passed in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks that requires states to update their driver’s license security. If Kentucky does not comply, state residents won’t be able to use their driver’s licenses to board domestic flights or enter certain federal buildings, including military bases.

“We sort of felt like we were out there on an island by ourself after his veto,” Hoover said. “Our leadership team is not going to ask our members to vote for a bill unless we have assurances it will be signed.”

In a brief interview with The Associated Press, Bevin did not commit to giving a public guarantee. But he said “the bottom line is we need to make changes and we’ll make them.”

“I’m confident we can get something done,” he said.

After Bevin vetoed the legislation last year, the department denied Kentucky’s request for more time to comply with the law. But in January - one month before federal entities like Fort Knox were set to deny entry to Kentucky driver’s license holders - the department reversed itself and extended the compliance deadline to June 6. Kentucky is now one of 21 states granted an extension, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Not complying would mean Kentuckians would have more difficulty entering the state’s two major military bases, Fort Knox and Fort Campbell. And they would need some other form of identification to board a domestic flight, most likely a passport or passport card. Passports cost $135. A passport card cost $55 and cannot be used for international travel. Currently, Kentucky driver’s licenses cost $20 and are good for four years.

This year’s bill, written by Republican state Rep. Jim DuPlessis, would increase the cost of a driver’s license to $43, but it would be valid for eight years. Kentuckians would have to show their birth certificates and social security cards to get a compliant ID. But it is optional. The state will still issue non-compliant driver’s licenses to people who request them.

DuPlessis said the bill would not allow people living in the country illegally to get driver’s licenses, but it would charge legal immigrants an additional $30 for a driver’s license to compensate the state for the extra steps required to verify that person’s identity. Other groups who require special IDs, like the state’s Amish population, would also be charged an extra $30. The money would go to the state’s road fund.

“So now all those people that were terribly concerned can take a step back, can take a deep breath,” DuPlessis said. “If they don’t want a document sent, they will stay in the state.”

The state has complied with some aspects of the law, but others - including placing a security marking on driver’s licenses and having documented security plans for offices that issue the licenses - require legislative approval. The legislature is scheduled to adjourn March 30.

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