Higdon introduces bill to expand driver licensing options across the state

14th District State Senator

Friday, Jan. 12, 2024 — The second week of the 2024 Legislative Session concluded Friday, and week three will begin on Tuesday following the observance of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.


I want to start this week’s update by informing you about a great resource you can use to stay informed and updated on the efforts of the Kentucky State Senate. The Senate Majority Caucus has a website, KYSenateRepublicans.com, where constituents and media members can find additional access and insight into caucus members. We have information on committee meetings and floor action and include important constituent resources. I’ve sent out several press releases in the early portion of the session, which you can find on the website. Contact my office if you want to be added to my email list, where you will receive these updates directly.

I enjoyed having visitors from our district visit me in Frankfort in week two. Nelson County Sheriff and 2023 Kentucky Sheriff of the Year Ramon Pineiroa joined Rep. Candy Massaroni and me on National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day on Tuesday. He, his wife, and two daughters were given a well-deserved and warm welcome to the Senate chamber. It was great having him and his family.

The first bill to pass from the Senate chamber and move to the House was Senate Bill 5, a measure we moved swiftly as it was designated priority legislation. The measure removes the requirement that resident owners of farmlands must own five or more acres of land to be exempt from sport hunting and sport fishing license requirements when hunting or fishing on their property. The measure rectifies the concerns of sportsmen and Kentucky landowners by correcting the statutory language imposing the requirement from the 2023 Regular Session.

The Senate Transportation Committee has not met at this point in the session as we continue to wait for the House of Representatives to send over its proposed two-year road plan and state budget. I’ll keep you updated on this as it develops.

Nevertheless, I introduced Senate Bill 91 on Monday. I know the state’s process that moved driver licensing services from local circuit court clerk offices to regional offices because of federal REAL-19 mandates was frustrating for many of our rural constituents.

While my colleagues and I worked to ensure things like online and mail-in renewal were an option, and that the Transportation Cabinet and Kentucky State Police hosted mobile services in counties without a regional office, it’s still been a real challenge for working parents with students having to miss work and school to travel to the nearest regional office.

Senate Bill 91 would take a few steps to further relieve some of these stresses. The bill would allow third parties to provide driver licensing services—think of companies like AAA, county clerks, sheriffs, and even libraries. The bill would not make these locations mandatory but would allow them if they chose to participate. We have seen some interest from these entities, but there are more questions than answers at this point.

Finally, the bill would require the Kentucky State Police to provide permit tests for students along with their pop-up/mobile driver testing courses to avoid missing school to take their tests. We will also work to get driver testing back to the local level. I’ll make sure the bill gets a hearing in the Transportation Committee and will work with my colleagues on any necessary modifications that may arise. I’m also open to suggestions that may help in this process. If you have a suggestion, call and leave me your suggestions on the legislative message line at 1-800-372-7181

As my previous legislative update outlined, the state income tax rate dropped another half percent on January 1. You should notice an increase in your take-home pay in your next paycheck. I remain committed to the further responsible reduction of the state income tax, made possible by 2022 legislation establishing a measured framework to achieve that goal while ensuring we maintain needed state revenue.

In 60-day sessions, legislators often focus on crafting a conservative, fiscally sound budget. Committee meetings this week have been light, though the Senate Family and Children Committee held an informational meeting specific to Kentucky’s child care needs.

With federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds expiring in 2023, lawmakers heard from many concerned about early childhood education during the interim.

Following COVID-mandated closures, federal funds provided stability for staff wages and relief for child care centers facing financial struggles. Committee members cautioned against proposals for universal public pre-K from the executive branch. This one-size-fits-all approach to a complex issue would be beholden to the traditional school schedule and unable to meet the needs of many families who work the second shift and need care during the summer months.

I am grateful to represent our district. Find the status of legislation by calling 866-840-2835, legislative meeting information at 800-633-9650, or leaving a message for lawmakers at 800-372-7181. You can watch and follow legislative activity at KET/org/legislature and Legislature.ky.gov.

In closing, President Ronald Reagan signed the King Holiday Bill into law on Nov. 2, 1983, designating a federal holiday to be observed annually on the third Monday of January. This year, the holiday falls on King’s actual birthday, as he was born Jan. 15, 1929. First celebrated in 1986, the holiday has come to commemorate the strides this country has made in civil rights. King was a leader who strived for progress in racial equity and equality during the modern civil rights movement. King, A world leader focused on change and progress, is the only non-president to have a national holiday. State and local offices are closed, and many businesses observe this important date.

If you have any questions or comments about these or any other public policy issues, please call my office toll-free at 502-564-8100 or the legislative message line at 1-800-372-7181. You can also reach me at home, (270) 692-6945 or by email, Jimmy.Higdon@LRC.ky.gov.


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