Turner appeals to transportation cabinet, Secretary Gray for Harlan County

Published 6:35 am Wednesday, August 25, 2021

State Senator Johnnie L. Turner (R-Harlan) recently sent a letter to Mr. Jim Gray, Secretary of the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC), and Ms. Sarah Jackson, Project Manager for Kentucky REAL ID, on behalf of constituents of the 29th Senate District. The letter urges KYTC to select Harlan County for a state regional driver’s licensing office.

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet has announced that all licensing services will gradually move from Circuit Court Clerks’ Offices in every county to Driver Licensing Regional Offices by June 30, 2022. Kentucky State Police will still oversee all written and road testing. To date, 40 counties no longer use Circuit Court Clerks’ offices for driver’s license responsibilities. They have transitioned to regional offices. On Aug.º 23, nine additional offices are scheduled to transition. Thus far, due partly to concerns expressed by Senator Turner and fellow lawmakers, more rural counties of Southeastern Kentucky have not yet had to make this transition.

“I want to bring the transportation cabinet a different perspective. Eastern Kentucky, where I’m from, is not going to be able to travel,” Senator Turner said during a June meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Transportation. “Right now, it is two hours or more—you got one (regional offices) in Prestonsburg and one in Somerset—to get a driver’s license. I get phone calls from people thinking they are going to have to drive all the way to Somerset to get their license renewed.”

While grateful for KYTC doing its best to offer accommodating solutions to residents of Southeastern Kentucky, such as online renewal options, Senator Turner also pointed out that Eastern Kentucky still struggles with internet access. In the July 16 letter, Senator Turner offered a solution to constituents’ concerns in the 29th Senate District.

“The Transportation Cabinet has done a tremendous job providing regional locations thus far. However, there is a true exigency among the residents of the Southeastern region of the state. Harlan County, with its bordering of Bell, Leslie, Letcher, and Perry Counties and being home to Post 10 of Kentucky State Police, would provide a pragmatic location.”

Travel times from mountainous Harlan County create a unique difficulty for residents. In some cases, round trip travel times could be as much as six hours, forcing residents to take an unpaid day off from work.

“I believe my request to Secretary Gray on behalf of the people of Southeastern Kentucky is a reasonable request, but most importantly, I believe it is an essential one,” Senator Turner said of his letter. “I do appreciate all the steps the cabinet is taking to make the transition smoothly, but I have to be a voice for the challenges my constituents will face.”

KYTC offers online driver’s license, motorcycle license, or combination driver/motorcycle license renewal up to six months before expiration. Additionally, regional offices will offer periodic “Pop-up Driver Licensing” visits to counties without a regional office to offer on-site application and renewal services.

To find more information about state regional offices, learn more about REAL ID, or renew driver’s licenses online, please visit drive.ky.gov. For more information on Senator Turner, visit legislature.ky.gov.