FRANKFORT, Ky. (May 3, 2016) – In a surprise move, Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin vetoed a bill that would have set the state on the path toward compliance REAL ID. With the veto, the state will continue to refuse to implement the national identification system.

The Kentucky Senate passed SB245 by a 26-12 vote on March 22. The House approved the measure 59-40 on the final day of the legislative session. The bill would have created a new Kentucky driver’s license 100 percent in compliance with all requirements of the 2005 federal REAL ID Act.

President G.W. Bush signed REAL ID into law in 2005. It essentially coopts the states into creating a national ID system. The federal government has no constitutional authority to mandate a national ID.

Under the law, all 50 states were supposed comply with the federal law by 2009. But, states rebelled against REAL ID for several reasons, including privacy concerns and the fact that Congress didn’t provide any funding for the mandates it expects states to implement. Some states passed laws expressly prohibiting implementation of the act.

The federal government found coercing unwilling states wasn’t as easy as anticipated. Instead of forcing the issue, the feds issued waiver after waiver after waiver. At the beginning of this year, 28 states, including Kentucky, remained non-compliant, nullifying the national ID system in effect.

But this year, states resistance to the scheme began to crumble. Idaho was one of the first states to defy implementation of REAL ID. Earlier this year, the legislature voted to move toward compliance. A similar move is afoot in Missouri, a state that earlier passed a law specifically prohibition implementation of REAL ID.

It seemed likely Bevin would sign SB245 into law. During the legislative session, he even made a video in support of the measure. But heavy pressure from a grassroots organizations including Take Back Kentucky, the Tenth Amendment Center and Kentucky Progress quickly mounted, culminating with nearly 600 delegates at the Kentucky State Republican Convention voting almost unanimously to tell Bevin to veto REAL ID.

The pressure was enough to turn the tide and Kentucky will not be complying with federal mandates relating to driver’s licenses.

Mike Maharrey

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