#schoolsafety | Higdon: Real ID coming; additional school safety legislation under consideration

By JIMMY HIGDON
14th District State Senator

Friday, Jan. 24, 2020 — Members of the Kentucky General Assembly — and all of the hard working staff – enjoyed a long weekend honoring the life and legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I had the honor of attending MLK events in my District. On Sunday, I visited Lebanon Baptist Church for an event sponsored by the Lebanon chapter NAACP. On Monday I attended an event in Bardstown sponsored by Concerned Parents of Nelson County at St. Monica’s Catholic Church. It’s a pleasure to see passionate people come together in their community behind a common cause.

SEN. JIMMY HIGDON

Following the weekend, the Kentucky General Assembly returned ready to work on your behalf in Frankfort. The atmosphere in the Capitol was one of anticipation as hundreds of citizens rallied for causes in the Rotunda and met with their legislators to discuss issues facing the Commonwealth.

There are several matters of importance I want to make you aware of. They include the upcoming 2020 Census, Kentucky’s rollout of REAL ID, and the recent information regarding the Selective Service.

REAL ID ROLLOUT. First, since I serve as Vice-Chairman on the Senate Transportation Committee, I want to be in the know about Kentucky’s new federally compliant ID’s. In October – if you do not have an alternative form of ID such as a passport – you will need the new Voluntary Travel ID to board a domestic airline, enter a military base, or enter federal buildings like the White House. For those who will not need the Voluntary Travel ID, a Standard version of the new Driver’s License will be an available option.

The governor held a press conference this past week at the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) Office in Frankfort. The technology required to provide new ID’s does not exist at our local Circuit Clerks offices. In hopes of addressing this, KYTC has established several Regional Offices throughout the state. These offices are going to serve as hubs to provide new ID’s. I want to encourage you to take a moment to visit Drive.KY.Gov to find information on this matter. There is understandably a lot of confusion surrounding this topic, so I hope that by providing this information to you directly, some might avoid frustrations in acquiring their ID.

In order to apply for the Voluntary Travel ID, you will need to provide the following:

— One proof of identity documentation, such as a copy of your birth certificate – If you need to obtain a certified copy of your birth certificate, contact the Office of Vital Statistics at 502-564-4212.

— One proof of your Social Security Number – Be aware that a laminated copy of your Social Security card will not be accepted. You can go to SSA.GOV, or call 1-800-772-1231 to request a replacement Social Security Card.

— Proof of residency – One (1) for the standard ID option; two (2) for the Voluntary Travel ID

Furthermore, if your current license expires after October 1st, 2020, you can apply for a duplicate license at a discounted price of $15. Your new ID would maintain your current card expiration date. There are various options to choose from regarding your new ID’s expiration date. Again, I encourage you to visit KYTC’s website to ensure you are familiar with this information. You can call KYTC directly at 502-564-1257. Please do not hesitate to contact my office if you have any questions. I will be happy to help in any way I can.

SELECTIVE SERVICE FOR WOMEN? I was notified via email from the Kentucky National Guard this past week that there have been several questions raised recently about the military draft or, Selective Service System (SSS). One, in particular, being whether females will or will not be included. There are currently no requirements for women to register for the draft. There are reports that text messages are being sent claiming that the draft has begun or is imminent. This IS NOT true and is not being sent by the SSS or any other Federal entity. Accurate information about this can be found at www.sss.gov.

Currently, strong Board Members are needed to help play an important community role closely connected with our nation’s defense. If the military draft were ever to become necessary, approximately 2,000 local boards throughout the United States would decide which young men in each community receive deferments, postponements, or exemptions from military services based on federal guidelines. Board members are currently needed in Jefferson County. You can volunteer at the SSS website.

CHILDREN’S ADVOCACY DAY. This week included Children’s Advocacy Day at the Capitol, an event promoting children’s safety, health, education, and economic well-being. In light of this annual gathering, I would like to emphasize the importance of a complete count of our children and students in the upcoming 2020 Census. The Census count helps determine how much money communities receive for critical resources that our children and families will depend on for the next ten years, including food assistance, housing support, child care, and public education. Knowing how many children there are and where they live is essential to getting the proper access to those critical programs and services here in Kentucky.

SCHOOL SAFETY. It is also imperative that we take necessary action to ensure the safety and security of our students. Two years ago, the Commonwealth grieved the loss of innocent lives due to a senseless act of violence at Marshall County High School. This tragedy prompted last year’s Senate Bill (SB 1), the School Safety and Resiliency Act, a multi-faceted approach to better secure Kentucky schools through increased physical safety measures, a supportive learning environment, and preventative behavioral health services.

As a member of the Senate Committee on Education, I was intently focused on the discussions surrounding that legislation. SB 1 passed with bipartisan support and got signed into law in 2019. On the anniversary of the tragic Marshall County High School events, the Senate Education Committee passed SB 8, a measure that would amend the current statute to expand school personnel, including the designation of a school safety coordinator for each district and by requiring one school-based mental health counselor per 250 students. SB 8 would also require school resource officers to be armed.

BORN ALIVE BILL. Also passing favorably through committee this week was SB 9. This Senate priority measure is a testament to our unwavering commitment to protect and defend the right to life here in the Commonwealth. Also known as the “Born Alive Infant Protection Act,” SB 9 requires a physician to take all medically appropriate and reasonable steps to preserve the life and health of a born-alive infant.

While it was only a four-day workweek for the Kentucky General Assembly, the Senate passed several bills out of the chamber that will now go on to the House for consideration. Those bills were Senate Bills 2, 5, 20, 56, 66, & 72. You can find information on them – along with other legislative matters – at www.legislature.ky.gov.

GOVERNOR’S BUDGET ADDRESS. As I touched on in recent columns, during even-numbered years, the Kentucky General Assembly is tasked with preparing a balanced two-year budget for the state. The budget address by the governor is one of the first steps in crafting this vital document that will guide the Commonwealth’s financial decisions for the next two years. Once the governor outlines his plan, the Kentucky Senate and House will propose separate budget plans, and all three parties—after many hours of deliberation and input from stakeholders—will come together to craft a final budget. The governor will be delivering his budget address on January 28th at 7 p.m. Discussions on this year’s budget will grow as more details of the governor’s proposal becomes available.

The pace in Frankfort is undoubtedly picking up, and I anticipate an increase of visitors and advocates from across the Commonwealth. As always, I welcome your input on these issues. It is an honor to serve on your behalf in Frankfort.

If you have any questions or comments about these or any other public policy issue, please call me toll-free at 1-800-372-7181 (office) or (270) 692-6945 (home) or email me at Jimmy.Higdon@LRC.ky.gov.

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